Susie Brown, managing director of the Beaverhead County Humane Society, suspects the dog was left by its owner at the end of the 2013 Rainbow Gathering, held earlier this month in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in southwest Montana. While attendees were discouraged from bringing their pets to the event, they were by no means prohibited as dozens of dogs were seen running around the camp.
As of July 18, Brown said 13 new animals have been taken into the Humane Society Shelter in Dillon, and she presumes all were left behind from the gathering.
“I picked up two at McDonalds last night,” she said.
Brown said the U.S. Forest Service is working with the Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Department to retrieve animals from the area and bring them to her shelter in Dillon. She expected all animals remaining at the site would be rounded up by July 21.
“Everybody’s trying to make sure that we don’t have dogs left up there,” Brown said. “Hopefully they haven’t been eaten by coyotes and bears and lions up there.”
Brown believed some of the animals wound up at the shelter because their former owners were hitchhiking out of the area and if a potential ride refused to transport the pet, the owners opted to leave the pet behind.
Brown said some of the dogs brought in are suffering from injuries or malnutrition. One 8- or 9-month-old pitbull crossbreed was brought in covered in bloody feces, suffering from what Brown thought was a version of dog flu. The dog died four hours after arriving at the shelter, despite Brown’s attempts to revive it.
“I put $200 worth of fluid in it, and it still died,” she said.
Far fewer abandoned animals were found this year compared to the last Rainbow Gathering held in the area in 2000. Brown said 56 animals were left behind last time, including dogs, cats and even a parakeet that Brown scaled a tree to retrieve. Brown hoped this was the last time she would have to see the effects of a gathering in Montana.
“Please, God, don’t let them come back, ever,” she said.
Photo of the 2013 Rainbow Gathering by Mike Gerrity