Posted: Feb 27, 2013 8:38 PM by Victoria Fregoso - MTN News
CROW AGENCY - On a typical Friday afternoon, Sheri Lee of Rez Dog Rescue drives around the Crow Reservation searching for stray dogs. And on the weekends, she is set up at the Petsmart in Billings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., trying to find homes for these once stray dogs.
"For the most part if we get them out of there by the time they're three or four months old, they're very trainable, they're smart, they understand that they've been rescued and they're very loving animals," Lee said.
Driving around and taking leads from community members, Sheri and volunteers with Rez Dog Rescue locate dogs and prepare them for adoption. With no animal shelter, these dogs start off at foster homes. "It's fun," said Bernie Wahl, a foster parent for Rez Dog Rescue. "Our dogs get to meet other dogs and we love being a foster home, we just love it."
Rez Dog Rescue is just part of the solution to bringing down the stray animal population on Reservations. "I've always said that 90-percent of the animal problem that we have out there, comes from 10-percent of the population," said Veterinarian Dr. Mark Francis.
When Dr. Francis began helping out with free spay-neuter clinics on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Reservations ten years ago, he says, the turnout was overwhelming. But over time, that number dwindled. "We've tried the education, we've tried the spay neuter clinics and there's just that focus group that we get a hold of that wants to try and do something but unfortunately the focus group is so much smaller than the bigger population out there, that we just haven't been able to touch. And I don't know how you get to those people," he said.
With a majority of the population unable or unwilling to fix their pets, controversy arises when it comes to other ideas to minimize the stray animal population. "I think when it comes to euthanizing them, those kinds of endeavors have met with a lot of conflict, particularly with our elders that don't believe that, that is appropriate to do for the dogs."
As of now, both the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Tribes are not working with organizations offering assistance, such as the Lame Deer Critter Committee and Rez Dog Rescue. These groups say they are now in the infancy stages of saving lives. "It's going to take a multi-pronged approach through true collaborations from private partners, probably our tribal government, the community groups," Brooke Gondara with the Lame Deer Critter Committee said. "It's not going to be just anyone. And it's going to have to be a broader conversation at a point in time. Do we want a dog pound? Do we want a no kill shelter? What do we envision?"
And although their mission may seem endless, these organizations are determined. "At some point in time, it's going to come down to a reasonable level where there isn't dogs running in packs and chasing kids down," Lee said.
If you are interested in adopting a pet from Rez Dog Rescue, you can visit their Facebook page by clicking here. They can also be found on Petfinder.com.
If you are visiting the reservation and see what appears to be a stray dog, the Lame Deer Critter Committee Discourages people from picking up these animals for several reasons-
-You can't be certain if it is a stray, or happens to be someone's pet.
-There is a chance these dogs might have a contagious disease.
-You never know how a dog will react - it might be friendly, or it can attack.