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San Clemente Journal

Kelly Hammons, Fostering Dogs & Finding Forever Homes

Sep 06, 2019 02:06PM ● By Rebecca Parsons
by Rebecca Parsons

Kelly Hammons breathes life into the saying that a dog is “man’s best friend.” She grew up in Vermont alongside a dog named Joker, a bird called Tinkerbelle, and eventually a four-legged friend of her very own, Yuki, delivered from Santa Claus himself. An avid animal lover, her parents were convinced she’d become a vet one day, but she went a different route and pursued physical therapy instead. 
Kelly and her husband, Rob with the foster kids.


While in college, Hammons met her husband, Rob, and as soon as they were married, they got a Pomeranian to help make their house (or apartment in their case) a home. Her husband’s job moved them around a lot and they acquired a pack of dogs along the way, before finally settling in San Clemente eleven-years-ago.

A few years back, Hammons came across a rescue site online that was seeking a foster home for a mother and a liter of puppies. Afraid of the commitment, she opted to do nothing and two days later, she discovered that the family had been euthanized. Hammons quickly learned that puppies don’t often last long in shelters due to the amount of work and attention they require as well as the fact that they get sick easily. The next time the opportunity to foster came around, she jumped.

Shortly into her fostering journey, Hammons became involved with The Little Red Dog, a non-profit organization that rescues dogs and works to find them a forever home. Most of the dogs at the rescue center come from high skill shelters in the area, but the center has also helped dogs displaced during the massive California fires and rescued them from the dog meat trade in Thailand.


Hammons loved what the rescue center stood for and quickly became a full-time volunteer for the organization. Today, she helps organize fosters, handles vet appointments, conducts phone interviews with applicants, helps set up meet and greets with prospective parents, and works at events.

“I like so many things about this rescue and am proud to be part of their team,” says Hammons. “They really interview prospective adopters well and offer training to dogs, since a well-trained dog is most likely to stay in the home he or she is in and be not dumped in a shelter. I am only part of the team that makes this work—together we make a difference.”

Unfortunately, only 10% of dogs that are born in the United States will find homes—the remaining 90% are either on the streets, in shelters, or being put to sleep. At The Little Red Dog, they offer training to help ensure more dogs stay in their homes, they educate people on the importance of spaying/neutering, and they work to change the terrible stigma associated with pit bulls. The rescue does not discriminate and brings in dogs of all ages and breeds and places them into foster homes until they are able to find the dog a permanent home. To this day, they have changed over 2,000 lives.

Although Hammons’ husband works another job full-time, he also volunteers with The Little Red Dog and helps foster dogs, alongside his wife. The Hammons’ foster the dogs out of their own home, take them to their vet appointments, and post cute photos of the dogs in the hopes of finding them a permanent home. To this day, they have fostered 155 dogs in total, including puppies, adults, injured and medical needs dogs, and even a special needs dog. They lovingly refer to their home as the “Dog Patch Inn” and even have a sign out front, denoting it as such. 
“Every single dog that comes through our home takes a little piece of my heart with them when they go, but the more I do this, the bigger my heart grows,” says Hammons.  “There are sometimes tears when they go, but it is really tears of joy.  I am totally committed to helping dogs and I cannot help more dogs if I keep them all. I just stay focused on the bigger picture.”
The Hammons have three dogs of their own: Toby, Casey, and Zoey. While they don’t feel they can or should adopt more, they hope to find other foster homes as loving as their own. The biggest challenges The Little Red Dog faces are funding monthly medical bills and the number of available fosters. Hammons encourages anyone who has ever considered fostering to give it a try or at the very least, to donate to the rescue center. 

“I have learned so much from these dogs,” says Hammons. “Mostly they have taught me not to sweat the small stuff and to live in the moment.  Nothing is better than a dog’s love—their love is unconditional and they are always there for me.”