My brother visited this area last Spring and came back with such a horrible story about the poor, starving dogs in Kayenta. In his words:

“I am pissed with the community of Kayenta, AZ. Every gas station, convenience store, fast food parking lot has a stray starving dog. I spent the entire night trying to feed them all and now it’s too late to find somewhere to sleep. I may as well keep driving. Maybe I’ll find more dogs who have been failed by humans.”Andrew Mitchell

I went looking for information and came upon two blog pages by 

They tell a horrible story of dogs who are left to procreate without the means for feeding. Smaller, weaker dogs are ripped to pieces over bits of food, those who are sick or injured are left to die, wither in pain, or used for target practice. Periodically, they will cull the stray population by going out and shooting a bunch of dogs.

“I’ve seen animals so injured you know they haven’t long to survive.  I’ve witnessed bigger animals in a pack tear apart a Chihuahua and eat it seemingly alive.  I often see the dogs standing in the middle of the highway as if willing those of us with the power to put a stop to their suffering right then and there.” – 

I contacted the author to find out more up to date information and there was nothing but bad news. It seems that everything she has tried to help the canine community there has been met with apathy, discouragement, and stonewalling from the human community. Even worse, it’s become a commercial commodity with all the businesses selling dog food so people passing through can feed them and feel better.

“I encourage you to watch this video entitled ‘Rez Dogs.’  It clearly outlines the lives of these dogs.  30 minutes long it’s worth a view.  The authorities claim that they are doing everything they can about the problem, but there is no evidence that, years later, the problem is any better.” – 

It seems so wrong that nothing can be done about the poor animals. The biggest problem, as I have come to understand it, is that it happens on reservation land, and outsiders are not welcome to come in and make changes, no matter how well intentioned.

“I see no end to the passive aggressiveness shown by a nation that prefers to be revered for their spiritual power and harmony with the land.  Kindness to animals and harmony with the world around you are not mutually exclusive.  At the very least, if the Indian Nation doesn’t have the capability or where-with-all to fix the problem themselves you would think they would be more accepting of those who are willing to take their problem on and work to solve the issues.”

We bypassed Kayenta and drove southeast towards Shiprock. It was the opposite way from where we were headed, and I saw no reason to force a horrible, heartbreaking experience for which there seems to be no answer. I also don’t want to take part in the commercialization of their plight. I can’t help but wonder though – is there something I could do that people before me haven’t?