Nova is truly a star.
In late October, a woman found the Great Pyrenees wandering the streets of Fort Bend County, Texas, as a stray. It was clear to the Good Samaritan that the dog recently had puppies because she was "full of milk," but her puppies "could not be located," according to Rene Vasquez, the director of Fort Bend County Animal Services.
Around the same time, on Oct. 24, a different concerned citizen found a litter of young puppies abandoned near a subdivision and brought them to after failing to find the pups' mom in the surrounding area.
"They were tiny, needing immediate bottle feeding and care, they were just about a week to 10 days old," Vasquez tells PEOPLE of the state of the puppies when they arrived.
While the puppies were dropped off in "good condition," they were hungry and needed nourishment as soon as possible. So Fort Bend County Animal Services posted on social media looking for emergency volunteers to take in the puppies and provide them with around-the-clock bottle feedings.
The woman who found Nova on the street saw the online plea for help and contacted the shelter with a different idea: instead of having a human do the bottle feedings, she offered to bring Nova by to see if the dog would bond with and nurse the puppies. The shelter agreed to give it a shot.
It became apparent in the first few moments of the meet-and-greet between Nova and the pups that the shelter made the right choice.
"Nova was so happy to see the puppies! She took to them right away, and they were very happy to have a mama and food!" Vasquez says.
The abandoned puppies are not Nova's biological pups, but she treated them as her own, quickly allowing the baby dogs to nurse and cuddle up to her for warmth.
Thanks to Nova's commitment to the litter, the puppies are doing well and "growing like weeds."
"We were so happy that Nova was able to step up and be a mom for them. Sometimes, it is difficult to find bottle feeders and fosters for when the puppies or kittens are so little, so to have a nursing mom available to accept the babies is definitely a good day," Vasquez says.
Nova and the puppies are currently living in a foster home—the foster parents caring for the canine group plan to adopt Nova once the puppies are weaned.
"The puppies will stay with Nova until they are weaned, and then we will start looking for homes for them. They will also be vaccinated, microchipped, and fixed before going to their forever homes," the Fort Bend County Animal Services director shares.
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The story of Nova and her puppies has a happy ending, but "it doesn't always work out that way," Vasquez says.
"As an industry, we are facing a real crisis in animal welfare across the country with an overabundance of stray animals and not enough adopters or fosters to help the overcrowded shelters and rescues. Nova and her puppies illustrate the importance of spaying and neutering," the shelter worker adds.
To learn more about Fort Bend County Animal Services and support the shelter's life-saving work, including low-cost spay/neuter programs, .