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During spay and neuter clinics at the Wind River Reservation, volunteers like Grace Drummond also gather up abandoned dogs and puppies to rehome.

At any given time, in addition to her own three dogs, two horses, and several chickens, Grace Drummond is keeping an eye on some assortment of abandoned puppies, foster dogs who need extra attention, and boarding clients on her Victor property, which is known to her friends as Graceland.

Drummond, the practice manager at Jackson Animal Hospital, said that while she is always the temporary guardian of at least a few extra dogs, she and her extremely tolerant fiancé are limiting their permanent ownership to three dogs.

“Our three dogs are all rescues from various situations, and they’re used to living a weird dog life. They have to be okay with dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages, and cats, horses, birds, and with people stopping by to visit. They’re pretty special,” Drummond said.

Some people ask how she can bear to give up the very cute puppies who circulate through Graceland, but her goal is never to keep dogs, but to see them settled with new, loving owners.

The Animal Adoption Center of Jackson, along with community partners, organizes Wind River Reservation spay and neuter clinics several times a year that are free for the pets of tribal members. During those large-scale clinics, volunteers like Drummond also gather up abandoned dogs and puppies to rehome.

“It’s very much a team effort to get out there, organize, advertise, get the vets and technicians, it’s a real production. I think it’s really cool work,” she said about the clinics.

Drummond often takes home a litter of days-old puppies that need to be treated and cared for until they’re old enough to go to new families.

“Straight from the reservation, it’s easier for shelters to turn down these puppies, because they’re really high maintenance, they’re a drain on time and resources,” she said. “It’s easier for me as a solo human to say yes. It’s lucky because I have multiple vets and vet clinics to use as resources, and can do treatments and vaccines myself. I’m reasonably well-trained in identifying issues.”

The puppies also benefit from the sometimes-chaotic atmosphere of Graceland; by the time they’re old enough to be rehomed, they’re well-socialized, understand other dogs’ boundaries, and are accustomed to being handled by humans.

With the reservation closed to visitors as a Covid precaution, the Animal Adoption Center hasn’t been able to host its clinics in the past year, a fact that Drummond says weighs on her.

“We had been seeing good progress in doing that clinic, so I feel like, knowing there will be more puppies this year as a result of not doing it, it’s gentle fuel for me to want to rehome as many dogs as possible.”

Fortunately, there has been plenty of demand; dog adoption numbers are up across the country this year.

“What we do would absolutely not be possible without the community of active dog-lovers here,” Drummond said. “Dog adoptions are so successful in the Tetons because people here are good dog owners. They want to have a companion and they have the lifestyle and space for a dog. Everyone should rescue dogs, they’re awesome. It’s really rewarding.”

Even if there were no puppies coming from the reservation, Drummond said she would still be fostering dogs for the local animal shelters and vet clinics. “I know I’d feel a little empty-hearted if I weren’t fostering. This is my life.”