Efforts by volunteers, staff, donors and community partners have resulted in a milestone achievement for Underdog Animal Rescue and Rehab, a Moab-based nonprofit organization focused on helping the hundreds of thousands of stray companion animals on the Native American Reservations of the Southwest United States. Underdog, founded by Moab resident Katy Gullette in 2017, reports it has now rescued over 1,000 dogs – and it’s inviting the community to celebrate at an open house event to be held at its Rescue Ranch (4561 Sunny Acres Ln.) from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10.

“Please join us in celebrating Underdog's success. We couldn't do it without you!” says Underdog’s public invitation.

The open house will feature tours of the facility, food, puppy races, a Strut your Mutt fashion show, agility demonstrations, and a raffle for gift cards to Moab businesses.

Chiara Solitario, the outreach and fundraising coordinator for Underdog, pointed out another reason to attend the open house – the chance to pet adorable puppies and dogs.

The canine residents of Underdog are housed outside where Solitario said they get “plenty of shade in summer and warmth in winter” inside large, secure run pens. It’s a way to transition the dogs from living outdoors to living in a home. The dogs are socialized by staff and volunteers.

There are three full-time staff counting Solitario.

“We are a small and mighty crew,” she said, adding, “We could not do this work without volunteers.”

She gave an example of a recent week in which Underdog had over 80 dogs in its care – an impossible number of animals for the staff to take care of by themselves.

“With so many dogs, volunteers are so needed,” she said. “They are critical to our mission.”

Solitario said that the group’s average intake is about 50 dogs per month, while adoptions average around 40 per month. Some dogs are transferred to other shelters where they are more likely to be adopted.

Some volunteers come to socialize the dogs; others take dogs home and foster them until a permanent placement is found. Volunteers also assist in transport. Underdog also maintains a home in which several volunteers live, spending time caring for the animals in lieu of rent.

Solitario said it is easy to become an Underdog volunteer.

“If you’re already planning a hike with your friends, let us know the day before and we’ll have an Underdog for you to take on your hike,” she said.

Adopting a dog entails an interview with an Underdog staff member “to determine if it’s a good fit,” Solitario said. There is a $250 adoption fee for a puppy (nine months and younger); the fee is $150 for an adult dog. All animals are spayed or neutered prior to adoption and receive vaccinations.

To find homes for all these animals, Underdog has expanded where adopters come from. She said Moab is an ideal location for Underdog because people are excited to travel here to adopt, coordinating an adoption with a vacation. The pandemic prompted more “virtual adoptions” by persons in northern Utah and Colorado, and Solitario said there are Underdog adoptees in places as far away as Canada and Mexico.

Underdog also periodically holds free or low-cost spay and neuter clinics on Native lands using a contracted mobile veterinary service. Solitario said this results in a better life for future generations of dogs, including less competition for food and fewer deaths on the highway.

Underdog also hosts events in the community, such as a recent socially distanced group hike called Walks and Wags. The group also did a Puppies on the Patio event at Moab restaurant The Spoke. The Moab Sun News event calendar and Underdog’s Facebook page are good ways to learn of upcoming Underdog events.

To learn more about the organization – including the many options for those wishing to donate, including one-time donations, monthly giving, a “sponsor a spay” program, the organization’s Amazon wish list and more – go to underdogrescuemoab.org