New Mexico woman fosters 48 dogs in 9 months

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When the animal shelter in Albuquerque gets too crowded, they know exactly who to call.

Kourtney O’Hair in the past nine months fostered 48 dogs. Sometimes she takes on a whole litter.

She said her passion started when she took in a puppy that was probably about four days old, she told KOAT. She and her family bottle-fed it, and that made up her mind.

“We’re like, well, we have to keep it. And then we just kept fostering all these little 3-day-old puppies. So we have them for a long time. We get attached, but it’s very fulfilling, very rewarding,” O’Hair said.

Animal shelters are seeing an overcrowding crisis nationwide, the Miami Herald reported. The Miami-Dade County Animal Services (MDAS) announced recently that it couldn’t accept animal intakes from June 22 until July 10 because it has to focus on the hundreds of animals already in their care.

Officials at the shelter said in a news release that since the COVID pandemic, there has been an overcrowding crisis at shelters all across the U.S. During the past two years, the MDAS has seen a big increase in the number of days animals stay in their care and had to close intake a few times in 2023.

Some of the puppies have to be bottle-fed for six weeks, and it’s another 10 weeks until they are big enough to be adopted.

O’Hair said taking care of such young puppies is overwhelming.

“You have to get up every two hours when they’re that young,” she told KOAT. “And they’re on a heating pad. They’re sprawled out throughout our bedroom. We have to burp them just like human babies.”

But she does it because there is such a great need for people who are willing to take in the animals and “help them have their own lives,” O’Hair told the television station.

She and other animal rights activists believe irresponsible dog breeders are partly to blame.

Designer dogs -- the breeding of two different breeds -- are all the rage these days and add to the dog population. Labradoodles and Goldendoodles are incredibly cute and billed as perfect for people with allergies.

They are hard to train said Gary Hogan, who is a goldendoogle enthusiast. His website, Grateful Paw, contains suggestions on the best practices for training them.

But most people aren’t that patient, so they give up and take their pets to the shelter.

“The doodles are coming in like crazy because, you know, they’re advertised as hypoallergenic, and they’re not necessarily, with what they’re mixed with,” O’Hair told KOAT.

“They still cause some allergy problems. But at the same time, if you want a doodle, go to the shelter -- I’m sure you’ll find one,” she said.

She encourages people who want a dog to adopt one and not go to a breeder or pet store where the animals could cost a lot of money.

“Rescue, rescue, rescue,” she said. “Go to a nonprofit. Don’t buy your dog from a breeder. It is important that we ... put a halt to backyard breeding and whatnot. The shelters are overrun. The nonprofits are overrun,” O’Hair said. “Most of them are full. I don’t know anybody that’s accepting dogs. We need fosters.

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