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Annie’s Orphans caretakers honored by Durango Daybreak Rotary Club

Anna and Bill Anderson have operated no-kill dog shelter for about 40 years
Anna Anderson of Annie’s Orphans Dog Shelter in Durango visits one of the 61 dogs at the shelter. Anderson has been housing dogs for about 40 years south of Durango. Anna Anderson and her husband, Bill Anderson, were recognized by the Durango Daybreak Rotary Club with its annual Vocational Excellence Award. (Durango Herald file)

The Durango Daybreak Rotary Club recognized Anna and Bill Anderson of Annie’s Orphans Dog Shelter, a no-kill shelter that cares for dogs in need of permanent or temporary care, with its annual Vocational Excellence Award on Wednesday.

Carol McGuire, Rotary president, said she created the award in 2012 to honor people of various vocations who stand out for going above and beyond their job description.

The Andersons were unable to attend the Rotary Club meeting Wednesday morning, but Bob Mals, Rotary member and presenter of the award, said he would make sure they receive the award.

Mals said the Andersons have housed dogs since the 1980s and possess a lifelong love for animals.

The couple started their Annie’s Orphans Dog Shelter when the Humane Society put out a cry for help – the Humane Society’s building was condemned and the dogs needed somewhere to go, Mals said.

Carole McGuire, Durango Daybreak Rotary Club president, discusses the history of the club’s annual Vocational Excellence Award, which recognizes individuals and groups from various occupations who go above and beyond the normal confines of their jobs to help people and the community. The 2022 winners of the award are Anna and Bill Anderson, who operate Annie’s Orphans Dog Shelter, a nonprofit, no-kill dog shelter. (Christian Burney/Durango Herald)

“Anna and Bill Anderson stepped forward and adopted a bunch of dogs,” he said. “Particularly because they were interested in preventing dogs from being euthanized for expediency’s sake.”

The no-kill shelter has helped people dealing with evictions, temporary disablement and terminal disease, and military deployment overseas. The Andersons’ services are free of charge, as well, Mals said.

“They take these dogs in and the people who actually ask them to help them out are in sometimes dire straits for various reasons,” Mals said. “Anna always tells them to take care of your own circumstances, try to stabilize, and when you’re able financially, economically, whatever it is, you come back and we’ll give you your dogs.”

Mals described the Andersons’ work as a “long-term commitment with a dual fold mission” to help families and people, in addition to animals.

He said the couple cares for up to 60 dogs at a time – a full-time job – and many of the animals can’t be adopted because of behavioral issues. But 20 to 30 dogs on a given day are adoptable, Mals said, and Anna Anderson spends her time trying to find them new homes.

Bill Anderson manages volunteers and takes care of the shelter grounds, Mals said.

Vocational Excellence Award recipients are chosen by the Rotary Club’s Community Service Committee, which applies a four-way test to determine which nominee wins the award. Nominees must “adhere to and promote high ethical standards in all their personal and professional dealings,” according to the Rotary Club’s guidelines.

The test measures truthfulness, fairness, the ability to build goodwill and better friendships, and how beneficial one’s efforts are to the community at large.

Three other nominees for the Vocational Excellence Award received Community Shining Star congratulatory letters, McGuire said.

They are: Carol Melcher, food service manager for Meals on Wheels; Ron Corkish, district sales coordinator for Aflac Insurance, nominated for his commitment to local Search and Rescue; and Seanan Culloty, executive chef at Manna.


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