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Sharing Saves Lives

Sharing Saves Lives

It’s been SOOOOOOOOO slow lately, that our dogs, Turner, Moby, Jasmine, and Duncan have been just sitting for weeks. Duncan is in a foster home, so he has had an easier time. But Turner was starting to turn a corner…that dreaded corner that all shelter workers know: going “kennel-crazy.”

First, it starts with resistance to entering the kennel after a walk. That can be followed by some intense jumping and barking when you try to close the kennel gate. The last thing dogs do is start to use their mouths on you to keep you from leaving them in there alone…again.

We lost one dog this way last year. Wrigley, a GORGEOUS red pitbull, very sweet..most of the time. Once she turned that corner of losing her mind, it didn’t matter how often or how long we took her out, exercised her, went on a hike, etc…..she did NOT want to go back into that kennel alone. Then, she bit a volunteer and had to be euthanized.

There are many heartbreaking aspects to doing rescue work; too many to count, in fact. But this one thing….something that is PREVENTABLE, is one of the hardest for shelter volunteers and staff to take. To watch a healthy adoptable dog deteriorate through no fault of its own…to the point of actually going crazy.

ENTER THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA…(which this volunteer will never underestimate again.) Turner, as mentioned, was starting to turn..and we had experience now to do EVERYTHING in our power to avoid the same outcome. So we asked our friends on Facebook and Instagram to share his post….and you all DID, hundreds of times! After getting him immediately into foster, Turner was adopted within 10 days of his SOS post!

So of course, we did the same for Moby and Duncan. Moby’s post was shared 271 times, reaching 12,000 people. Moby was adopted THREE DAYS after! Duncan’s post was shared over one thousand times, reaching over 40,000 people!! Duncan is still meeting prospective adopters to find the perfect fit.

As mentioned before, we could not do this important work without your help… and now you know the POWER OF A SHARE!!

Published On: 3/30/2021

From Isolated to Hopeful…. Paw Paw’s Story

From Isolated to Hopeful…. Paw Paw’s Story

It’s hard, but try to imagine this: Spending your entire life within an 8’ x 12’ wire pen surrounded by old tires and other garbage. A very primitive plywood shelter sits in the corner and there is food and water, but you are otherwise neglected. Fortunately, you have one friend in there with you, so you at least have a little companionship. Imagine living that way for five long years.

This was our sweet Paw Paw’s life until he was rescued by the amazing NMDOG rescue, based in Albuquerque. There were a number of dogs enduring life on chains on the same property, with one pup even living in an abandoned car under the dashboard. Paw Paw may have been able to move a bit more freely than some of the other dogs on that property, but his life was isolated and lonely just the same.

After Paw Paw was rescued and received much-needed veterinary care (including dental cleaning and sterilization,) NMDOG founder Angela Stell reached out to us. She had observed our success with shy and shut-down dogs in the past and thought the quiet atmosphere in Mountainair might be an excellent place for a very undersocialized dog such as Paw Paw to recover.

We welcomed Paw Paw to MAS at the end of March. It took a few weeks before he was ready to initiate contact with the volunteers and Steve our ACO, but once he was over that hump, he began to slowly and hesitantly blossom. Oliver, our staff Socializer-in-Chief and Canine Host, helped Paw Paw feel more comfortable by just hanging out with him and initiating play.

Today, Paw Paw’s routine consists of an (at least) twice daily run around our newly fenced-in backyard along with participating in playgroups. He is getting accustomed to wearing a belly band, (used to prevent marking,) and meanders in the lobby to “help” Steve with chores. Sometimes it takes a while before he is ready to venture out of his kennel, but we leave his kennel door open so he can go back and forth as he pleases. His kennel is his “safe space” and he seems happy to have the option of returning to it as he needs to. We have also made progress with his leash-walking, but that has been slower going. We think he feels overwhelmed being in wide-open spaces without the sight of fencing around him, but he is more willing to venture out when another dog is along for the walk.

Needless to say, it is slow going with Mr. Paws. BUT…. He is so incredibly loving and affectionate, it is worth every moment. Paw Paw is now running up to the volunteers to say hello! He has begun jumping up on us, a behavior normally discouraged with other dogs, but a great sign of improvement for him. He has also done very well walking around town and was completely engaged with all the new smells and sounds, once he got over the SCARY car ride. It will take time, possibly a year or more, before he feels more confident about his place in the world. Paw Paw is one of the most sensitive and caring dogs we have met. He shows concern when other dogs are distressed, and he is a fantastic playgroup friend!

Paw Paw’s future adopters need to know this: He is more comfortable outside than inside, but he cannot be an “outdoor-only” dog. He craves and responds to affection, but he’s not demanding. He will need to be part of a family but on HIS terms. His adopters will need to accommodate Paw Paw’s comfort level in terms of exposing him to the world. They need to be willing to continue to push him, but at a slow and gentle pace. Also, Paw Paw depends on the company of other dogs to feel happy and secure. His future home should have at least one. A fenced-in yard will be best for this guy; it’s a visual boundary that he understands and can rely upon. He will need some type of kennel or dog house as his “safe space” where he can retreat if he feels overwhelmed.

We know the list of requirements for his future home is long.…but that’s okay. Paw Paw is equal parts companion, friend, and wise old soul. He will be an amazing teacher for the lucky family that gets him as well as “gets” him.

We love him exactly as he is, and will give him ALL the time he needs until we find the PERFECT home for him.

Published On: 5/31/2021

Fostering Saves Lives

Fostering Saves Lives

The summer of 2021 has proven to be a challenging one, not just for Mountainair Animal Shelter, but for shelters all across New Mexico and the nation. The pandemic had everyone at home for over a year, and then BOOM!… people went back to work, on vacation, or just out of the house, all at the same time! The shelters filled up beginning in May and June, and have remained full ever since.

Since we are so VERY small, we are fortunate that we can keep the same dogs for some time without the horrific pressure of euthanizing them to make space. Most shelters do not have that luxury.

However, we DO feel pressure to move dogs and get them adopted. The only way we have been able to accommodate incoming dogs has been to have a few foster homes. Currently we have three active fosters…and they save lives on a regular basis by welcoming dogs into their homes.

Sometimes the dogs have medical or behavioral issues, and sometimes they just need a break from the shelter. But all the dogs have benefitted greatly from the tender loving care they receive from our extraordinary foster-families.

Some people say, “I could never do that. I would keep them all,” or “I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t say goodbye,” (same thing!), or, “I could never do what you do, Anne, it would be too hard…”

I hear you…we hear you. And I’d like to politely disagree. Is it hard? Yes, at times it’s VERY hard. Do we cry? Sure…lots of times. Do we fall apart and have a mental breakdown because of working with these homeless animals?

The answer is NO.

Here’s the reality: The joy of a dog leaping up to greet you, the little dance they do for their supper, the crazy way they play together and their exhale of relief as they settle in your lap, ALL outweigh the tears and fears we feel for these blessed beings. I can speak for all the volunteers at FOMAS; that helping these dogs has IMPROVED OUR LIVES beyond measure…which is why we keep coming back for more, day after day and year after year.

So, what we say to you (Yes, YOU!) is:


There is far more joy to be had from helping these dogs than the few moments of sadness for them.

TRY IT! You just might LOVE IT.

If you are interested in volunteering or fostering, please email us at woof@fomas.org or anne@fomas.org

Published On: 7/27/2021

It's Damn Cold

It's Damn Cold

While many folks in animal welfare are taking advantage of Valentine’s Day themes and encouraging adoption for a lifetime of unconditional love, we at FOMAS are concerned with one thing today: the BITTER cold weather.

One dog was dumped yesterday at the Turner Inn, while people watched as the dog was tossed from the pickup’s cab and the truck then peeled out onto Hwy 60. No one was able to get the license plate number, but they did provide a full description of the vehicle to our ACO Steve. Fortunately, Turner, as we are now calling him, was sociable enough to allow himself to be held until we could come and get him.

Now, the high today is supposed to 5 degrees, with a windchill factor of -17. The low tonight will be -3 degrees with a windchill of -40. Imagine if Turner had run off? Would he have survived? What about those dogs who are tied up outside 24/7 without adequate shelter? How many of them will die tonight?

While dumping animals is illegal, it is LEGAL in many parts of New Mexico, including Torrance County, to have a dog tied out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as long as they have “adequate” shelter, water and food and are able to move around with a chain or rope at least 12’- 15’ in length.

There are a few reasons people tie out their dogs; they can’t afford a fence, the dog is being used for protection, or they may have a house that may be too small. (And yes, we also have a response for each of these reasons, but we won’t go into that here…maybe later.)

However, in spite of the fact that this type of treatment of dogs dates back as far as anyone can remember, we know that this practice is inhumane. A dog deserves MUCH more than to be trapped in the same small patch of yard and subjected to a life of never-ending loneliness.

One of FOMAS’ future goals is to build a robust “fence program” in which we can help residents put up secure fencing around their yards to untether dogs off of that chain. Another goal is to work with Torrance County Commissioners to ban tying dogs out altogether.

NMDOG, one of the most successful dog rescues in New Mexico, has successfully worked with legislators to BAN this practice in a number of cities including Albuquerque, Las Vegas, and Hobbs.

Would it be too much to expect for other cities and counties to consider following suit?

We are interested in the feedback of our readers. Would you support this effort? How serious are you in helping? Please let us know as we make steps to tackle a decades-old legislation……


Published On: 2/14/2021

A Shelter is as Strong as its Volunteers

A Shelter is as Strong as its Volunteers

It’s been a very busy six weeks! Our volunteers have diligently been walking the dogs, working spay/neuter clinics, bagging and distributing food at the local food bank, and writing grants!

But as I sat down to contemplate what to write today, it struck me how much we have grown from our humble beginnings three years ago.

In the winter of 2018, we had four volunteers. Our primary purpose at that time was to get our dogs vaccinated and medical care along with providing them each with two walks a day. Of course, finding them amazing homes was also at the top of the list. By the spring of 2018, the number of volunteers had doubled to eight.

But now, as I reflect on all that has transpired since then, it’s a bit…..well…..jaw-dropping.

FOMAS now has a core crew of ten volunteers who clean, feed, and walk/socialize dogs. With the addition of six more volunteers in various capacities, we: transport dogs to medical appointments, regularly hold spay/neuter clinics AND pick up dogs from high-kill shelters, sometimes hours away from being euthanized.

FOMAS volunteers network with other shelters and rescues, research strange conditions (hyperkeratosis?!), and patiently work with troubled dogs to help them feel safe…for some, it’s the first time in their lives.

Our foster care families look after dogs with medical and behavioral issues with the very best care. They feed special diets, administer medication and drive their foster pups to medical appointments. It’s a daunting 24/7 job, but these fosters handle the special-needs pups with expertise.

Hours are spent talking to potential adopters to ensure one of our pups would be a good match for that family’s needs. They also check in with those families after the dogs have been adopted just to see how everything is going.

Many of these same people also work on the physical building. They bring in their own fans and heaters to be sure the dogs are comfortable. They hook up solar-powered lights, donate music, and help keep the building clean. They cook chicken and rice for dogs with upset tummies and collect tennis balls so we never run out. They donate Cosequin, CBD oil and hemp biscuits. And treats. Oh, the abundance of TREATS!!

These are the folks that helped construct the new outdoor kennels and built the new perimeter fence, creating a mini-play yard for the dogs!

We have other volunteers that create beautiful greeting cards, hand-painted birdhouses, and elegant quilts, all for fundraising.

Our volunteers take the shelter dogs for hikes on nearby trails.

They drive dogs out of state to potential adopters.

They write grants.

They treat each dog as one of their own.

SO. This blog post is for YOU, the volunteers of FOMAS. YOU are the HEART AND SOUL of the shelter. YOU are the reason our dogs are so wiggly-happy. YOU are why people feel confident adopting from us. Your work is EVERYTHING.



Linda Brown, Bill Dzuik, Chuck and Bev Dinsdale, Jill Mulder, Paula Wells, Kris Pederson, Kay Fellows, Karen Bernauer, Trisha Greco, Paul Cera, Elaine Finke, Rebecca Anthony, Theresa Crouse, Geri Abrams, Bonnie Vines, Fizz Perkal, Deb Perrero, Mike Rieman, Martha Hallman, Deb Vetterman, Penny McCoy, and ACO Steve Bernauer, who is also an honorary volunteer because of the extra time he devotes to the shelter!

Published On: 5/21/2021

Current Projects

Current Projects

FOMAS Projects and Initiatives

While FOMAS has accomplished a great deal in only two-and-a-half years, there are many more projects either underway or in the planning stages. Take a look at what’s up our sleeves!

Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinics

Since 2018, we have been working with Bro and Tracy Animal Welfare’s mobile spay/neuter clinic. The clinic has visited Mountainair and Torrance County to provide low cost spay and neutering services for dogs and cats. We would like to keep providing this service to our community and help cover the cost of those pets who need to be spayed and neutered. As of now, the Bro and Tracy S/N Clinic has fixed close to 200 animals in Torrance County! This effort helps keep unwanted dogs and cats from reproducing and ending up in our shelters.
In addition to offering the mobile clinic, plans are underway to establish a fund to help those who cannot afford to have their pets fixed.

Fence Program

One of our main goals is to support our citizens to be able to keep their dogs safely and healthily at home. We receive many stray dogs that have escaped their yards or who have broken away from being tied out (which is still legal in some parts of New Mexico.) The proposed fencing program would offer a safe alternative to keep pets safe at home by providing fenced-in yards.
Fencing can be expensive, and with the help of donated funds, grants, and volunteer labor, FOMAS will help to patch fences, build fences, or donate a dog run to those that are in need of such services.

Humane Education

Providing services such as spay and neuter or building fences is important, but FOMAS also believes in the importance of humane education. We are working on programs that will bring humane education to our community’s children. This would involve volunteers working with groups of children through the schools or civic organizations such as the Girl or Boy Scouts. Humane education includes understanding basic pet care and the importance of spaying and neutering animals. As we broaden our scope, we want to offer opportunities such as a “pet camp” for kids to come to the shelter and “volunteer” for a week. This early education about the joys and sorrows of shelter life will help them develop empathy, teamwork, and confidence as they see how their love and efforts have a direct impact on a dog in need.

Published On: 2/13/2024

Poncho & Shadow

Poncho & Shadow

Poncho (collie) and Shadow (Lab mix)

Life has been forever enriched here at FOMAS after the admission of two thirteen-year-old dogs, Shadow and Poncho. Our hearts broke just a little when they first arrived, one with a lame back leg, the other just VERY old-looking. They were shy and afraid, having lived outdoors in the same location for their entire lives.

As we got to know them, however, we enjoyed watching their personalities emerge. Shadow was outgoing, friendly and eager for pets, Poncho was fearful and hid, ironically, in Shadow’s shadow. Eventually, Poncho approached as well, with Shadow’s confident assurance that we were “okay.”

They are now in foster care with the amazing Chuck and Bev, who treat all of our dogs with the utmost attention and patience.

It has been so heartwarming to watch these two pups’ affection for each other and their gradual blossoming in their new situation. Bev and Chuck are patiently working with them on housetraining (!!!) and offering them their choice of four or five luxurious beds. Poncho is growing bolder about crossing the threshold to go in AND out of the house. Shadow stocks up on as much petting and love as he can get.

Whoever adopts these two (and yes, they are a BONDED pair,) may not have them for many years…but these dogs will provide those adopters a lifetime of love while they are here.

And we are proud to be able to offer them a very comfortable and dignified end-of-life experience, as all dogs deserve.

Published On: 3/5/2021

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(505) 437-1113

P.O. Box 565, Mountainair, NM 87036