The Dogs at Kayenta

A recent series of posts from Susan R. Stoltz (Marshall’s savior) chronicles her experience with throngs of abandoned dogs in rural Arizona, and raises an obvious and pressing question:  What can be done to save these forgotten souls?

Part One: Burger King To The Rescue


As I drove through Kayenta, Arizona this past week I noticed something odd. As I passed the McDonalds clustered around the front was a group of about five or six dogs. Same with Burger King and the gas station. Each location had its own group of dogs hovering in the sunshine. With three of my own in the car I didn’t have the opportunity to do anything but get gas and keep traveling. On the way back through, however, I made some inquiries.

As I went pulled up to the window of Burger King’s drive-thru to get my Whopper Jr. I asked the gal at the window the story about all the dogs.

“They get dropped here from all over,” she said. “They’re all strays with no place to go.”

“Don’t you have a local shelter or rescue?” I asked.

“Nope, they are on their own here.” She pointed to a larger brown dog just across the drive by the gas station. “That one over there was hit by a car about two months ago. Nobody took it to a vet, that’s why it drags its back leg around.”

I looked at the dog she indicated and at the others sitting or walking about. There was an Aussie that was obviously nursing pups she had hidden someplace. The other six or so looked cold and rightly so. It was below freezing at 2:00 in the afternoon.

“Where do they go when the temperatures get cold?”

“Wherever they can find to get out of the wind. They are lucky if the kids use them for target practice. At least they’re put out of their misery,” she replied.

I was shocked not only by the plight of all these dogs, but by the casual way she talked about them being used for target practice. I pulled into the lot, got out and counted the dogs then went back into Burger King and bought a hamburger for each – the largest I could buy.

I walked out with the bag and all wary eyes were on me. There was snow on the ground but I imagined a good drink of water was also hard to come by. I got out the water bowls I always keep in my vehicle and filled them from the gallon I also haul with me. The dogs all looked at me, the injured one and the mother of pups kept to the back of the group. If they were going to get any food they’d need to be fed separately from the rest.

Unwrapping the burgers brought them all in closer, but still they were wary. I quickly threw all but two burgers further across the lot and approached the other two dogs. Setting the food in front of them I stepped back and they ate. My presence kept the rest of the pack away. When they finished I looked around. The others were drinking as if they hadn’t had a drink in weeks. I took one bowl over to the other two and let them drink also. The one that was struck by a car got up and wagged its tail and came close enough to let me stroke his head. He was dragging one leg behind him. The tears came as I sat there a minute giving this poor soul a bit of kindness. I’d have taken them all home with me if I could have but that was impossible. I wished I had a truck and trailer so that I could go back for them. I’d make it my mission to find some no-kill shelters for them, but those are hard to come by as more and more pets are abandoned.

I made some calls today to the state of Arizona. There was no shelter within 100 miles that was willing to go rescue these animals. I felt helpless and hopeless thinking of them out in the sub-freezing weather. My three were safe in Sandy’s care. They are among the lucky ones.

Part Two:The Dogs at Kayenta – The Story Continues

As I drove back through Kayenta, Arizona I was anxious to see how the pack of dogs was doing. I was particularly looking for the dog, I had now Christened ‘Fuzzyhead,’ that had been hit by the car. Hopefully he was still alive but I didn’t know what I would find.

As I drove into the Burger King there was twice the amount of dogs as before. Most of these dogs are big, as the small ones suffer greatly in the weather and from the pack. I parked at the back of the lot to take some photos. Crows were pecking at something in the weeds. I got out to look. It was a dead fawn colored Chihuahua that looked as if it had been torn to shreds. No doubt from the bigger dogs. I was ill. Had I seen this little fellow I would have swooped him up and taken him to a no kill shelter where I lived.

There was one poor creature right in front of the Burger King that looked as if he were dead. There was no way to miss him as you drove into the lot. I wondered how many people had ignored the plight of this poor animal. As I cautiously approached I could tell his breathing was labored, blood seeped from his mouth. He wouldn’t be long for this world. My throat was tight as I fought back tears of anger. That people could simply live with this and do nothing was beyond my comprehension.

I had come armed with a large 50lb bag of food. How to avoid the frenzy was my concern. There was no way I wanted to be part and parcel to a pack of starving dogs in a feeding frenzy. And these dogs were big. I got the bag out and poured a quarter of it on the pavement behind my car and quickly drove to the other corner of the lot. I did the same thing at all four corners. The dogs picked up my pattern after the second drop and were soon following my vehicle. They stayed politely out of the way and didn’t approach until I was in the car. In this manner I was able to keep the fighting for dominance at a minimum and the weaker dogs had half a chance.

I drove to the gas station across the street. There was Fuzzyhead being attacked by a huge brindle colored pit-bull. I drove close and honked the horn. The pitty let go and Fuzzyhead got up. As he limped back toward the station the pitty and two others attacked him again. I went close and yelled. They backed off once again. The other twenty or so customers looked at me as if I was crazy. I didn’t care.

Try as I might I couldn’t feed Fuzzyhead. The others attacked each time I set food out for him. I tried putting food further away for them, but no go. They came back every time. I decided to let it be. The more I tried to help the more trouble came his way.

Sadly I drove away. Hopefully when I came through again I could lend this poor dog a hand. I certainly would try.

Part Three: I Couldn’t Tell If He Was Alive

I approached Kayenta for the fourth time in less than fourteen days. I hadn’t been able to feed Fuzzyhead the last time and was wondering, with all the attacks from other dogs if he was still alive.

This time I played it smart. I knew Fuzzyhead wouldn’t venture far from his gas station because of his legs. He could now stand, but he did a funny hop and drag when moving forward. He seemed to know that crossing the street would be unwise.

I pulled into the Burger King across the street and got out with two smaller bags of dog food. There were dogs everywhere in the parking lot. Lying even in the middle of traffic I soon learned why. There was a group of older boys in the field, dogs were appearing out of the weeds as if the parking lot was a safe haven. I guess the kids couldn’t shoot into a lot full of customers. The dogs seemed to…

Part three concluded here.

Life With Dogs post end paw print







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