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Animal rescue groups say roving pack dogs a rising problem on Montana reservations

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Posted at 6:03 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 20:03:06-05

After a man in Lame Deer was attacked and killed by a pack of dogs Sunday, community members want answers as to the prevalence of the problem and how people can be kept safe.

Help Every Pet in Hardin rescued eight puppies Tuesday from the Crow Reservation after their mother was hit by a car. The group is one of three animal rescues that serve animals of Big Horn County, as well as animals on reservations across Montana.

Chris Winterrowd is the director of Help Every Pet in Hardin.

“Most of our puppies and dogs come from the reservation,” Winterrowd said.

Communities are overrun with stray dogs, many of which can be aggressive.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs confirmed Tuesday that 58-year-old Duke Little Whirlwind was killed in Lame Deer on Sunday when a pack of dogs attacked.

“When dogs pack, they actually will fight with each other too,” Winterrowd said.

Winterrowd has seen first-hand just how big of a problem stray dogs have become, especially on reservations.

“There’s a strong need specifically because of over-population,” Winterrowd said.

Heather Gauthier, a former animal rescuer in the Billings area, has seen it too.

“They never had collars on. They were always malnourished. There would be packs of them sometimes,” Gauthier said.

Gauthier used to work with animal rescue Rez Dogs of Montana. She once saw a pack of 20 dogs on one of her visits to the Crow reservation.

“I would even leave dog food for all the dogs that I saw. It would be very sad just how many you saw,” said Gauthier.

While rescues have helped, many communities like Lame Deer are still overrun with stray animals. Rescues often provide free vaccinations and spay and neuter clinics to try and curb the overpopulation problem, but the pandemic hasn’t helped.

“We had to cancel 2020 clinics, we had to cancel them all together and that was really tough,” Winterrowd said.

If you'd like to be a part of Help Every Pet in Hardin, visit their website at Help Every Pet of Hardin.