Brownsville Animal Defense Center seeks help to care for rescue dogs

The sound of a phone ringing is a constant for nonprofit president Tony Lopez and staffer Elizabeth Dillinger as they work together in their office at the Brownsville Animal Defense (BAD) Center in Brownsville.

It’s the Monday before Thanksgiving, but Lopez says he has no expectations that they’ll get any rest soon.

“See the phone ringing, it’s nonstop,” Lopez said, with most calls about found stray dogs or owners wanting to place unexpected puppy litters with the organization.

Brownsville Animal Defense foster dog relaxes on a couch in a holiday shirt Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at foster Susana Manzanares’ home in Brownsville. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

For now, most of these calls have to end with rejection.

It’s been a hard two months for the nonprofit, which helps place rescue dogs in loving homes in the community.

“We’re in a hard spot right now. I’m not going to lie. Our monetary donations were slow last two months. Our fosters are slow. Our adoptions are slow. People are looking for the correct companion, and sometimes we don’t have that, so they have to look elsewhere,” Lopez said.

He’s hopeful the community will answer their call in this time of need, especially for fostering some of their charges.

For now, the group has paused the intake of new animals after numbers ballooned to 75 dogs, with 62 still in their care, with four additional litters of puppies expected.

Lopez explains that since they aren’t a shelter, they rely on fosters to help provide a safe environment for the dogs until they can find a forever home. They need at least 30 foster homes— they have 10. At the moment, Lopez is fostering nine dogs at home.

One-year-old rescue Oscar is pictured Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, at the Brownsville Animal Defense Center in Brownsville. Oscar is one of several dogs that were boarded due to a lack of fosters, but increased costs have made that difficult to continue. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Brownsville Animal Defense has been boarding the dogs they can’t place with a foster, but that’s no longer a financially viable solution. Dogs like Oscar, a 1-year-old terrier mix, now come to work with Lopez after he had to pull him from boarding after 45 days when the cost became too high.

This week, he says they have a total boarding bill of $900 for their dogs. The week prior, there was another for $800 and another for $500 before that.

“It’s things like this that are just killing me,” Lopez said.

Volunteers Zoraida Urbina and Susana Manzanares have been fostering for 10 and two years with the organization. Urbina is fostering two dogs, while Manzanares has six—some are senior dogs that might never leave. The shortage of available fosters is straining both of them as there are always new dogs in need— but limited people to care for them.

“It gets overwhelming, but what keeps us going is that we are doing it for the dogs,” Urbina said.

For people interested in becoming fosters, Lopez says what’s required is love and patience for their animals, which often have come from difficult situations.

“All we need you to do is open up your doors and give them time to feel the love of a home,” he said.

Fosters get everything needed from the nonprofit for the dog, from food to medical care.

In return, Lopez asks that they ensure they can bring the dog to the center’s adoption events when needed and provide supervised care for their charges.

Brownsville Animal Defense fosters Susana Manzanares and Zoraida Urbina are pictured with a quartet of long term senior and hospice foster dogs from the nonprofit Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at Manzanares’ home in Brownsville. Both fosters have been feeling the strain as two of 10 fosters available to help house the nonprofit’s charges while receiving calls for help for new dogs in need of shelter from the community. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

For people that want to help but might not be able to foster, monetary and item donations are always in need. Lopez estimates they average about $6,000 monthly in expenses covering medical care, food, boarding and the overhead for their facility.

The group is trying to start a sponsorship program for their puppies for $250 each, which can help with medical costs and care while they try to get them placed.

Brownsville Animal Defense is also in desperate need of two specific dog food brands for the 15 incoming puppies Lopez is expecting: Purina Complete Puppy Chow and Pedigree Puppy Growth and Protection.

For the Christmas season, they are also running a pet toy drive until Dec. 18 to provide animal-safe toys for dogs and cats at the Brownsville Animal Regulation and Care Center and their dogs for the holidays.

Toy donation boxes are at Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers on Morrison Road and Boca Chica Boulevard, The Weekend Vet office, Exceptional Emergency Center-Brownsville, Learning Tree Kids Academy, and the Brownsville Animal Defense Center.

On Friday, Brownsville Animal Defense will be at the Black Friday Event Sale from 4 to 6 p.m. on Nov. 25 at Cricket Wireless on Boca Chica Boulevard with dogs available for adoption. Adoption fees include up-to-date vaccinations, spay/neuter and microchipping for $165 for puppies and $150 for adult dogs.

For more information, visit or call (956) 551-0119.