Desert Animal Companions of the Navajo Nation

Pegasus Foundation works with partners to address animal welfare issues on the Navajo Nation

By Anne Ostberg, Pegasus Foundation Communications Director

Since it was founded in 1997, the Pegasus Foundation has been working with various organizations to address animal welfare issues on the Navajo Nation. The largest Native American nation in the United States, the Navajo Nation encompasses 26,000 square miles in the southwestern United States and is home to 210,000 Navajo people and an estimated 160,000 stray dogs and cats. Because of the extremely depressed economy on the Nation (the per capita income is less than $6,000 a year), the majority of dogs and cats are underfed and receive little or no veterinary care. In addition, stray animals roaming the roads and communities are a public health and safety concern.

Over the years, Pegasus has worked with various partners, including the Navajo Nation Veterinary & Livestock Program, SNAP, Plateauland, Arizona Humane Society, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and others, to implement an evolving strategy for stray animal care on the Nation. The Foundation currently works with a team of service providers that provide mobile veterinary clinics throughout the Nation. Last year, more than 1500 dogs and cats were spayed or neutered.

The Pegasus Foundation also facilitates communications among service providers. In 2001, the Foundation began funding a coordinator position to assist the Navajo Nation Veterinary and Livestock Program director in spay-neuter community outreach and re-establishment of a puppy adoption program. SNAP serves as both fiscal agent and advisor for this position. In addition, monthly conference calls with all of the providers have led to increased coordination of spay-neuter clinic schedules. SNAP now maintains a clinic schedule for all providers on its website.

The mobile Spay/Neuter providers' dedication and commitment to quality services matches the Pegasus Foundation's strategy of engaged philanthropy, which is echoed by New Profit Inc.: "Our theory is that if foundations and individual philanthropists allocated funds based on performance instead of need, they would create an environment that would, in turn, produce higher performing nonprofits."

The Pegasus Foundation sees its role as extending well beyond grantmaking. The Foundation serves as a catalyst to help non-profit organizations achieve their potential through forming partnerships, building capacity, leveraging resources, and educating the public. Furthermore, Pegasus encourages its partners to include all communities and all peoples in developing collaborative partnerships that will lead to lasting change. This strategy has proven to be effective in the Foundation's partnerships on the Navajo Nation.

Contact Anne Ostberg, for more information.

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