Nuzzles & Co. rescues stray animals on Navajo reservation

Sequoia, a rescue pup, is checked in to the Nuzzles and Co. Rescue Ranch by Dr. Alyssa Hughes, right, Thursday afternoon, May 31, 2018, after traveling from a Navajo reservation near the four-corners area. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
Tanzi Propst/Park Record | The Park Record

For information about Nuzzles & Co. and to see an online list of adoptable animals, visit

There were 250,000 stray and roaming dogs and cats on the Navajo Reservation in the Four Corners area in 2014, when Nuzzles and Co., the Park City-based animal rescue nonprofit, began visiting the area for monthly rescue visits, according to the tribal council.

Today, the number of feral animals is down to 75,000, said Nuzzles and Co. President and CEO Kathleen Weron.

During these trips, volunteers round up as many animals as they can and bring them in for treatment at the Nuzzles & Co. rehabilitation ranch in Peoa, she said.

“We work closely with the Navajo Nation and its pet shelter down there to rescue animals,” Weron said. “We call the dogs and cats ‘res animals,’ because they are from the reservation.”

Most of them will find loving homes, sleeping in comfortable beds, and eating delicious and healthy food…”Kathleen Weron,Nuzzles & Co.president and CEO

The “res” could also mean “resilient” because of their living conditions, Weron said.

“They have survived in harshest of conditions in the desert,” she said.

Thursday’s rescue tally was about 100 animals, about 40 dogs and 60 cats. The rescue not only made an impact with these animals, but also helped stem overpopulation, Weron said.

“A female dog can have an average of seven puppies per litter and she will average three litters a year,” Weron said. “If you multiply 100 by 21, that’s 2,100 animals that won’t be reproducing in the next seven months. So, we actually saved thousands of lives regarding the puppies and kittens that won’t be born on the street and die of starvation or hit by cars.”

Regardless of the challenging living conditions, the animals that make it to the rehabilitation ranch have a mellow disposition.

“They are so sweet,” Weron said. “They are so demure, and are very adoptable.”

Salt Lake City-based car dealership Mark Miller Subaru sponsored Thursday’s two rescue trips.

A food and litter drive by Nuzzles & Co. at the dealership’s locations yielded donated Subarus full of food, cleaning supplies and medication needed to support the reservation’s shelter, said Weron. Volunteers drove the cars with the materials down to the reservation. Meanwhile, Mark Miller flew his private plane to the reservation. His son Jeff, the general manager of Mark Miller Subaru, served as his copilot as they made multiple trips from the reservation with puppies and kittens in critical need of medical care, according to Weron.

“They took a load of empty crates that were filled with dogs and cats and flew them back to Salt Lake and transported them to the ranch,” Weron said. “Then they turned around and did it again.”In addition, the volunteers, while at the reservation, loaded the cars with dogs and cats and drove them back to the ranch.

Once the animals arrived at the ranch, Nuzzles and Co. medical director Dr. Alyssa Hughes and her team of volunteers documented, microchipped and began treating the animals by checking for disease and parasites, as well as administering deworming medication and immunizations.

When the animals are healthy, Hughes will spay and neuter them before they are adopted.

“We see everything from young, healthy puppies to terribly malnourished and injured animals,” she said. “Today we have a dog that may need its eye removed, and we have also seen animals who have gotten hit by cars or suffered some other trauma and haven’t healed in ways that were comfortable.”

Some of the puppies and kittens have lost their mothers, so the Nuzzles & Co. staff will feed them around the clock, Weron said.

“We will be able to give them love and attention, and in a few weeks, we will have them available for adoptions,” she said. “Most of them will find loving homes, sleeping in comfortable beds, and eating delicious and healthy food.”

Hughes and Weron are grateful for the volunteers who help with the animal checkups at the ranch.

Two volunteers helping at the ranch on Thursday were Park Silly Sunday Market Executive Director Kate McChesney and the market’s Director of Operations and Vendor Logistics, Michelle McDonald, who named the animals according to themes.

“One of the themes was alcohol,” McChesney laughed. “We named a Jack Daniels, a Jim Beam, a Cazadores, a Bacardi and a Johnny Walker, which was a black dog.”

Another theme was board games, according to McDonald.

“We did a Parcheesi, Monopoly, Checkers, Catan and Chutes, as in Chutes and Ladders,” she said.

Some animals were named after heroes, including Deadpool, Jedi and Selina (named after Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman), McDonald said.

Another theme was trees, with names including Sequoia and Maple.

“We also named a dog Prince Harry, and we are going to name some of the cats after states — Arkansas, Delaware and Connecti-Cat,” she said.


Skate with Santa at the Park City Ice Arena 

Santa Claus returns to the Park City Ice Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 12, from 5 to 7 p.m. for the annual Santa Skate! Don’t forget to bring your ski or bike helmet to wear while you’re on the ice. Complimentary skating and rentals. 

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