Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab rescues 27 uncared for cats and dogs from rural New Mexico

ST. GEORGE — In a remote area of Deming County, New Mexico, a samaritan stumbled upon a big surprise. Dozens of cats and dogs — alone and appearing uncared for. Almost 30 made the long trip to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, where they’re being prepared for new homes.

Several dogs seized from a property in Deming, New Mexico, relax at Best Friends Animal Society’s Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, March 8, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society, St. George News

The animals were living in makeshift housing, according to a news release issued by Best Friends. In video footage released by the nonprofit, dogs can be seen barking and jumping, and cats are climbing the wire fencing as rescuers walk by.

Deming Luna Humane Society in New Mexico was called to retrieve the “cold, hungry dogs and cats clamoring for attention.” However, the shelter was at capacity, prompting them to contact Best Friends in Kanab, the release states.

Deming Luna is a Best Friends network partner and works closely with the nonprofit, Ali Waszmer, the Dogtown director at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, said in the release.

The shelter manager sent a video to Waszmer, who told St. George News that taking in that many animals would be a “real challenge for them,” considering the size of their facility.

“But it was an opportunity for us to be able to help them,” she said.

Seven cats and kittens and 20 dogs of all ages and sizes were transferred to the Sanctuary, arriving at approximately 8:30 p.m. on March 6, Waszmer said.

Several of the dogs from Deming, New Mexico, relax at Dogtown located in Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society, St. George News

“As always, it’s a collaboration,” she said. “They drove part of the way, and two of our incredible volunteers — who will drive all over for us and are happy to do so, thankfully — drove and met them halfway.”

Some of the animals appeared neglected, with missing fur, scarring or scabs on their faces and bodies, the release states. Despite this, they had “great dispositions.”

“(There are) a lot of different personalities,” Waszmer said. “But the really cool thing is they’ve all been super social with people.”

Staff noticed some “quirky” behaviors, like resource guarding or being a “little bit bossier” about receiving attention, “which is totally normal,” Waszmer said.

“But overall, everybody is very friendly,” she said. “They are living in group housing with other dogs, so they’re doing great. … They’ve all been really lovely.”

Waszmer said that the “biggest thing” the pet rescue illustrates is that “all animals have different paths and their situation — where they came from doesn’t necessarily dictate who they’re gonna be. So, you know, we see dogs all the time going through really challenging things and they come out just like these guys who are incredibly friendly and social.” She encourages prospective pet owners to see “the dog that’s in front of you.”

Claude the dog looks at Anabel Kirk while Tina Sylvester takes notes during his intake at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society, St. George News

The animals received medical examines and “everyone looks good,” Waszmer said. While they’re “on the skinnier side,” they’re eating really well.” Some of the dogs caught kennel cough, but employees haven’t otherwise reported major concerns.

Best Friends is in the process of scheduling spay/neuter surgeries for the pets, but then they will be available for adoption, Waszmer said.”

“They’ll be ready to go,” she said.

To help pets in similar situations, Waszmer said people could volunteer, foster, adopt and donate to local shelters.

“There’s are homeless animals in need all over the country — New Mexico, Utah, everywhere,” she said. “And really the best thing we can do is get involved.”

To learn more about fostering or adopting a pet from Best Friends Animal Society, visit their website.

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