Navajo Nation-based animal rescue works to decrease the number of stray dogs on reservation

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SHIPROCK, N.M.—It’s a situation all too common on the Navajo Nation – puppies in need of rescue.

“People are leaving boxes of puppies at the convenience store or on the side of the road,” Founder and CEO of Turquoise Paw Yvonne Todacheene said.

And it’s not just puppies but dogs that are being left behind hungry and roaming the reservation.

“You always hear ‘Somebody should do something.’ You know, and well I am somebody,” Todacheene said. “I lived away from home for many years, but I came home and saw all the animals in need on the reservation.”

That inspired Todacheene to start Turquoise Paw, a rescue that focuses their efforts within the reservation.

“Because there is nothing here, there is no resources, there is barely animals shelters and there is barely animal control officers, it’s a widespread problem,” said Todacheene. 

That Turquoise Paw is working to solve, by rescuing one stray at a time.

“We get a call or notification from somebody about a dog on the road, or in a town, or pretty much in a deserted area,” said Chantal Wadsworth, volunteer with Turquoise Paw, and owner of Rez Roads Rescue. “If they are very skittish, shy or warily of people it will take a while just for the trapping process.”

Or sometimes the dogs are eager to get rescued. Once captured, they are taken to the Turquoise Paw Farm.

“We just bring them here, get them healthy and move them out to different rescues in different states,” Todacheene said.

And by giving these animals a second chance, Turquoise Paw hopes it will plant a seed in the community. 

“It’s about inspiring the next generation because we want more people to help with the stray dog problem,” Wadsworth said. “We want more people to see that we can make a difference on our own if you’re willing to learn, and open your homes to foster, everybody can rescue. And if we get more people to help that would lessen the dogs we see roaming on our reservation in almost every community you visit.”

Turquoise Paw is looking for more volunteers to help transport the rescued dogs off the reservation to shelters where the dogs are adopted, you can contact them here.