On Navajo reservation, half a million dogs roam wild, sometimes eating people

More than 445,000 dogs, most of which "roam unchecked," are killing livestock and sometimes attacking humans on Navajo Nation land in the American southwest. AP via MSNBC.com.


  1. I lived in Farmington, NM, for four years, which is right on the border of the Navajo Nation. Everyone knows about rez dogs, and there were plenty of instances of emaciated or dead dogs being found. Don’t recall any instances of people-eating during my time there. 

    A friend of mine worked at the local animal shelter and said it is very overburdened and they have to destroy large amounts of animals as a result.

  2. Half a million wild dogs?

    “An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.” — Marcello Truzzi (1935-2003)

    God bless the wildlife and animal control manager for trying to secure more funding, but his assertion requires serious evidence.

  3. Well… We could have open hunting season and eat them. Or if people with hypocritical morals in the US find that reprehensible, we could ship the meat to Asia where they don’t see eats dogs as any different than eating pigs.

    1. Only problem with that: you’re not going to get very tasty or healthy dogs.  Now, whether the dogs that you cull and butcher will be any less good for you than, say, the battery-raised ones over there?  Who knows.  I’m also speculating on the battery-raising thing.  I don’t know how they raise dogs to eat in countries where they do.

    2. That’s a cultural difference, not a hypocrisy. You might also want to consider that culture on Indian Reservations isn’t exactly the same the white American culture you’re calling hypocritical. You might also want to consider reading the article.

      The article says they are euthanizing thousands of the dogs they catch. By their description of the dogs, many aren’t particularly healthy. Not much meat on a starving dog with mange.

    1. Ah yes, so it begins.  The internet-discussion tradition of political sniping, while always present, ramps up quite a bit in the silly season of a campaign year.  If TFA were about a political character or candidate or some overt political issue, we could expect such comments in the first or second post.  Here we see it coming in 13th, but I am sure it will start to move higher as we get closer.  By next summer, every single article– even the ones about ice cream flavours or moon ricks or zombie movies– will immediately devolve into the cartoonish stereotypes currently in play about Obama and his Republican rival.

      1. If the political system, and all of the politicians within it, were less laughable, we would see less of this. They only have themselves to blame.

      2. Yup.  That’s how it goes.  The election ‘year’ gets longer and longer: just like Christmas now begins the day after Halloween.  No doubt someday ‘the shopping season’ will begin not long after Labor Day…but I digress.

        Sure, the politicization of everything can drive one mad…but you would prefer some other form of governance?  One without the sniping and rhetoric?  No, the alternatives are terrible.

        (Even though you’d have to be pretty charitable and/or blind to argue that our current system is working out very well for the country as a whole…)

        Anyhow: Perry praying away the wild dogs seems appropriate; he did publicly pray for rain, did he not?  For all the good it did…

        Actually, for rain….I believe dancing is the preferred method.

        1. The election ‘year’ gets longer and longer: just like Christmas now begins the day after Halloween.

          Goodluck Jonathan, the President of Nigeria, is proposing a single, longer term of office there because Presidents spend their whole first term hedging their bets and campaigning for re-election.

      3. I was at a flea market a few weeks ago (in the year 2011) and some vendor got disturbingly excited and ran up to me saying “We have Spiro Agnew buttons!” Which would mean something if it were 1973 (aka: 38 years ago). This is America and that’s how politics works! If you don’t like it, keep on truckin’!

  4. (with credit to MrJM above)

    Half a million wild dogs running rampant, eating the livestock and spreading fear and rabies throughout the Southwest?

    Why haven’t I heard of this before??  In the India of old packs of wild dholes swarmed the countryside ravaging villages, even fighting tigers with their deadly hive-mind canid effrontery and savagery…

    To think that such mega-packs of killer hounds stalk Americas wilderness, unchecked, unseen and heretofore Unstoppable?!?

    Hell, I’m all for it.  Go get ’em doggies: Washington is thataway…

  5. This Boing Boing post makes a seriously inaccurate statement, saying “More than 445,000 dogs”, when the actual article says that ‘as many as 445,000’ could exist, as estimated by a single animal control official. This means probably much less than 445,000. These dogs are a legendary problem and certainly worthy of interest and concern, but there’s no reason to further distort the numbers by changing ‘less than’ to ‘more than’.

  6. The big surprise when we (Europeans) camped near the Grand Canyon, was the number of presumably abandoned dogs that would appear near the camp fire to beg for food. Not sure if this happens across the US or is just localised to AZ, UT and CA. 

  7. I couldn’t say if it’s anything like a universal problem within North American Reservations but the Rez I grew up near in Southern Ontario had quite a few semi-wild dogs running around. It was common knowledge that you had to be extra careful when riding your bike in or near the Rez because of roaming packs of dogs. I don’t have any first hand experience with the Southwestern cultures but I have spent some time working with sled dogs and can understand at least to some degree the cultural importance of dogs to many indigenous cultures. Unfortunately, while the animals are still around and breeding like they always have, many of the traditions relating to the dogs have been lost to the younger generations… including the tradition of eating dogs, a practice that undeniably served to limit the canine population.

    1. That’s the main problem with wild dogs compared to say coyotes. Coyotes are generally wary of humans (there are exceptions). They don’t particularly want to screw around with us. A pack of wild dogs doesn’t necessarily have that fear.

    1. I think it’s been done already.

      (10 BoingBoing bucks to anyone who knows why that movie is especially relevant to this post. Hint: it’s a heavy-handed metaphor.)

  8. The Humane Society says:
    Estimated number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year:

    6-8 million (HSUS estimate)

    Estimated number of cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year:

    3-4 million (HSUS estimate)

    but not be as BB noteworthy as it doesn’t mention “Navajo Nation land in the American southwest”?

  9. One of our dogs got out a few months ago and in travelling around the neighborhood I was quite surprised how many abandoned/feral/loose dogs there are around here.  Some of the packs were quite large, and mostly consisted of pit bulls, although there were also a lot of German Shepardy looking dogs and chihuahuas.  Never found our Millie.  :(  Even with all the dogs we did find though, and there were well over two hundred, I find it hard to believe that there is almost a half a million dogs on one rez.   That’s a metric assload of dogs.  If there are that many dogs, then the rez should open up a dog hunting season. Bring in some money and tourists, get rid of the problem, win-win.  

  10. My brother works for the Humane Society out of Durango, CO, and he just spent a week down in Shiprock, NM, doing advocacy on how and why to spay and neuter pets and working with the locals on how to start controlling this problem.

    He told me the problem is insane – packs of angry dogs all over the place. If you leave a torn open bag of dog food out behind the grocery store in town you’ll have over 100 dogs in a few minutes. Heading SW on the reservation, toward Many Farms and Chinle, the dog packs have actually displaced native coyote populations and roam feral in the hills and mountains.

    The dogs are almost universally in very bad health – domesticated dogs aren’t really suited for feral life, and just barely scrape by. They keep there eyes open for any that could theoretically be adopted (young, healthy) and bring them back up to CO, but those are slim pickings.

    People on the reservation are often poorly represented by their governance, and often such large areas are grouped together that animal control or police resources are spread over a huge area, meaning there are some places they never get to. Between that and severe poverty, it is hard to deal with problems like this.

    1. Also, it is worth noting that the reservation is VERY large – this isn’t some roadside casino with a little town behind it. The Navaho Nation is 27,000 sq. miles, and covers all of NE Arizona, and stretching into Utah and New Mexico. There are only about 170,000 tribal members living there, but the amount land is huge.

  11. My wife and I were volunteering for an illegal humanitarian project in the Navajo Nation a few years back.  We made the mistake of leaving our ice chest outside of the truck overnight while we slept.  In the morning, no more food!  Also, visit any of the New Mexico pueblos and you’re likely to see signs around that say “DON’T FEED THE RESERVATION DOGS”.  They’ve got a lot of stray dogs there, fighting over not very much food.  Don’t know if it’s 400k, but a thousand wouldn’t surprise me at all.

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