In August 2013, six starving, tick-infested puppies found a second chance at life when Erin Nissen, founder of Durango Animal Connection, picked them up from the Blackhat Humane Society on the Navajo Nation. After years of fostering for the La Plata County Humane Society, Nissen realized she had a soft spot for the diseased, malnourished, abused, and neglected dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens of the Navajo Nation and Four Corners region.
The animals had been dumped at the end of a dirt road in Chinle, Arizona. “Cricket,” the runt of the litter, could barely hold her head up under the weight of bat-wing ears that overwhelmed her tiny frame. Riddled with disease and anemia, she and her brothers and sisters tripped over their short legs, scared to even look at the humans trying to help them.
“I would sit with them on my lap every day to help them get used to being handled and learn to trust people,” says Nissen. “This moment gave me a spark of passion for rescuing directly from the Navajo Nation. I just fell in love with caring for animals who needed help learning to trust humans, and then finding homes where they’ll be loved and cared for beyond me.”
Five days after their arrival to her three-acre property in Durango, just when Nissen thought they would never improve, she woke up to see the puppies romping and roving around the yard. Nissen returned them to the Humane Society, relieved, but also aware that she wanted to make sure these rescue animals were matched with the best home possible – both for the pets and their new families alike. So, she launched Durango Animal Connection. Eight years and hundreds of Cricket-esque stories later, Durango Animal Connection is proud to serve rescue animals of the Four Corners by finding them forever homes ̶ and connecting families with the new love of their lives.
“I love bridging that gap between where these poor animals come from and the good lives they’re headed toward once they’re matched with forever homes,” says Nissen.