FARMINGTON — If you love wiener dogs, there's a local group that could use some volunteers.
The New Mexico Dachshund Rescue needs volunteers to foster or adopt dachshunds that have been rescued from shelters or abusive homes. The organization is also looking for people willing to transport dogs to adoptive and foster homes in other parts of New Mexico and neighboring states.
Farmington resident Melissa Souers, coordinator for the group's Four Corners region, said there are more dogs coming in than the organization can handle.
"A lot of the dogs come in from shelters throughout the state and nearby states," Souers said. "Others come from people who are going into a senior center, and their kids call us saying they don't know what to do with their dogs. Many of the dogs have been rescued from hoarding situations."
Some of the dogs are older, which makes them more difficult to place because many people don't want to adopt older dogs.
Dachshunds that are available for adoption have been neutered and have received all of their vaccinations. But because some of them come from abusive situations or from puppy mills, they can be skittish, Souers said.
"The first dachshund I fostered came from a guy who used him as his 'guard dog' instead of as a pet," she said. "The dog had to roam his huge property, and had coyote bites all over him when I got him. He was terrified and wouldn't let me pet him for a month. But now he's doing great."
Finding people who are willing to transport the dogs is another big need, Souers said.
"Sometimes, there is someone who is fostering a dog in Farmington, but the family that wants to adopt the dog might live in Artesia, so we have to have a way to get the dog to the family," she said.
Los Lunas resident Virginia Smith, one of the founders of the New Mexico Dachshund Rescue and also the group's treasurer, says her organization has re-homed more than 450 dogs since its inception in 1999.
"We probably have no more than a dozen active members throughout the state, so for a small group, we've done really well," she said.
Smith said the increase in need for adoptive and foster homes is likely caused by the current economic situation.
"Since the economy cratered, it has just been pouring dogs. People are unable to keep them because they've either lost their homes, lost their jobs, or both. It breaks my heart."
Other volunteer opportunities with the group include processing volunteer applications, helping conduct home checks on potential adoptive and foster families and helping with the group's website. Souers said working to save dogs is a rewarding volunteer activity.
"It feels really great to pluck a dog from a shelter or other precarious situation and ultimately place him or her in the hands of a loving adopter," she said.