Annie’s Orphans caretakers honored by Durango Daybreak Rotary Club – The Durango Herald

Anna and Bill Anderson have operated a no-kill dog shelter for about 40 years

Anna Anderson of Annie’s Orphans Dog Shelter in Durango visits one of the shelter’s 61 dogs. Anderson has housed dogs for about 40 years south of Durango. Anna Anderson and her husband, Bill Anderson, have been recognized by the Durango Daybreak Rotary Club with its annual Professional Achievement Award. (Durango Herald file)

The Durango Daybreak Rotary Club honored 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 Professional Excellence Award on Wednesday.

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

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

Mals said the Andersons have been fostering dogs since the 1980s and have an abiding love for animals.

The couple opened their Annie’s Orphans dog shelter when the Humane Society appealed for help — the Humane Society building was boarded up and the dogs needed a place to go, Mals said.

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

“Anna and Bill Anderson came forward and adopted a group of dogs,” he said. “Particularly because they wanted to prevent the euthanasia of dogs for convenience.”

The Murder Free Shelter has helped those facing deportation, temporary disability and terminal illness, as well as overseas military deployment. The Andersons’ services are also free, Mals said.

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

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

He said the couple cared for up to 60 dogs at a time – a full-time job – and many animals could not be adopted due to behavioral issues. But 20 to 30 dogs on any given day are adoptable, Mals said, and Anna Anderson spends her time trying to find new homes for them.

Bill Anderson manages the volunteers and looks after the shelter grounds, Mals said.

Recipients of the Professional Excellence Award are chosen by the Rotary Club’s Community Service Committee, which applies a four-criteria test to determine which candidate wins the award. Applicants must “uphold and promote high ethical standards in all personal and professional relationships,” according to Rotary Club guidelines.

The test measures sincerity, fairness, the ability to establish goodwill and better friendships, and how beneficial one’s efforts are to the community as a whole.

Three other Professional Excellence Award nominees received congratulatory letters from Community Shining Star, 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.