crystal + girl
Mckinley County  humane society

"I’ve been fostering animals at McKinley for about a year and a half now. The amount of strays around here was what got me started — just seeing the amount of dogs running around on the side of road, starving or dead. It was terrible. 

I went to our local Arts Crawl after moving back to Gallup. I saw a dog sitting on the curb with his head down, emaciated, completely defeated, and covered in mange. It was just begging somebody, “Save me, save me.” We pulled over and I sat there for half an hour trying to get it to come to me. Finally, I got it. That’s when I decided I couldn’t keep ignoring this any longer. That’s when I started fostering dogs.  

Gallup has a severe animal overpopulation problem because of the reservations surrounding us. There are 50,000 stray animals on the reservation, and our shelter intake is more than 500 animals a month. Each month, we usually have about 60 adoptions, which makes the adoption rate just a little over 10 percent. That’s very low.  

The work is so exhausting, but you have to do it because without us, they would die. You can’t save them all — we know that. You just have to focus on the ones you did save, the ones you did get out, and all the good that you’ve done. I think I’ve had 87 foster dogs come and go through our house this year. When you foster, you really feel like you’re doing something, like you’re giving back.  

I’m a mom to two young girls. I believe I’m teaching them selflessness and environmental responsibility. I hope they’re understanding that having a heart and being involved in something that’s not just about you is really important.  

Fostering these dogs helps my girls learn how to love. They learn that even if something seems broken, it still deserves a chance. They understand that it’s not all about you. They learn to be giving people, not to be selfish. I’ll tell my daughter ,'Well, this dog’s leaving on transport in the morning.' She’ll always give the dogs a goodbye hug and kiss before they go. Then she says, 'You go find your forever home. You be good for your new mom and dad.' Sometimes people will ask her, 'Oh, do you miss so-and-so?' And she'll say, 'No, she found a good home now. She has her own family.'"