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Online petition pushes for ‘rez dog’ as official state canine

Caleb James
May 10, 2017 11:21 AM

New Mexico has a state reptile, a state flower, and even a state question: red, or green?  But the state lacks a state dog. 

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Now a petition circulating online aims to gather enough attention to change that, and the proposed dog is a New Mexico icon.

The proposal, according to a Change.org petition, is to give the state dog title to the “rez dog.” Sometimes called “pueblo dogs,” they are a free-roaming canine with ancient history. 

They are not quite wild and not quite stray. The rez dog belongs to no one and everyone. They're sometimes fed and cared for by whoever is able

New Mexico's rez dogs roam free. They are the dogs of the land, and their plight is not without controversy. They're sometimes seen as abandoned. 

"They're not being fixed and fed, and I think it's crazy," said Sherry Smith, who spent Wednesday evening at a downtown Albuquerque dog park. 

The web page dedicated to the cause estimates 20,000 to 100,000 of the independent canines live in New Mexico as part of their communities dating back thousands of years. 

Making them the state dog, the petition argues, would extend the recognition to New Mexico's indigenous peoples who've long lived side by side with the so-called rez dog, often caring for them.

“Nothing says New Mexico like rez dog,” said Kenny Barnett, also out with his dog Wednesday. 

Barnett liked the idea, and Gillian Montgomery said it captures the state's canine spirit. 

"Dogs from New Mexico are usually mixed breeds and come from a variety of different backgrounds, and people take them into their homes," Montgomery said.  

Ernie Montgomery echoed the sentiments. 

"I've rescued several over the years and so has my family, and many people I know," he said. 

That was the biggest hope Wednesday. If the honor does go to the rez dog, that it will encourage better lives for some, and a greater awareness of an often forgotten friend.

Only 12 states have declared a state dog. Colorado did something similar to this proposal, designating “rescue animals” the official state pet. Cats are also included on that nod.

Credits

Caleb James

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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