Anyone who has traveled for work knows that it’s not as glamorous as one might think. You don’t really get a chance to explore the city you’re in, most of your meals are eaten on the go or inside boardroom meetings, and a dark hotel room is a very daunting and empty thing to come home to at the end of the day. In short, traveling for work usually sucks. But, since 2018, the Homes 2 Suites by Hilton Biloxi North/D’Iberville has been running the Fostering Hope program. The hotel brings in shelter dogs from the Human Society of South Mississippi and allows their guests a chance to foster the dogs during their stay!
While it certainly is a way to beat those travel-for-work blues. The best part about the program is it allows you to adopt a dog by the end of your stay if you’ve really bonded. This program is a win all around as it allows shelter dogs a chance to get out of their kennels and free up space at the shelter, while also potentially finding a loving new home.
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The hotel that runs the program often has guests who stay for long periods – sometimes months – so it makes for a perfect place to have a foster program like this.
As Bianca Janik, the shelter’s relations manager, explained to USA Today, “They have a lot of transient guests who stay for months at a time near our army and navy bases and that’s just enough time to fall in love with a dog.”
The person responsible for coming up with the program is the hotel’s sales director, Teresa Johnston. After Janik had gotten in contact with the hotel, Johnston thought that a long-term foster program would be a good idea.
“Teresa thought they needed to set their hotel apart and this was it. She wanted to have the business more involved with the community. It was a very out-of-the-box way to find our animal’s new homes so we were on board,” Janik said.
If one of the hotel’s guests was interested in adopting a dog that they fostered, they could just fill in the application form as well as pay the $50 adoption fee – all in the convenience of the hotel.
Janik said, “We have a very open adoption program. People are trying to do the right thing by adopting. We reserve the right to deny. (We) may tell them we don’t feel comfortable, come visit our shelter tomorrow and we’ll find one that is right.”
Every year, the HSSM shelter takes in about 8,000 dogs. Thankfully, around 80% of those dogs end up getting adopted. The HSSM offers the standard adoption that most rescues do, in that they provide all their adoptees the following: a neuter or spay, microchipping, up to date vaccinations, and preventative heartworm medication. According to Bored Panda, there have been roughly 33 hotel guests who have adopted their Home 2 Suites “Fostering Hope” program dogs.
Janik believes that the program’s success is down to the shelter’s careful selection process, as well as the hotel staff’s good judgment skills. The shelter is hopeful that someday they’ll expand the program to other hotels, but they’re not rushing anything – not all dogs are good candidates for life in a hotel. There certainly is much more that goes into the entire program than one would initially think – it’s not as simple as just taking a bunch of dogs to live at a hotel with guests.
“Because there are live animals are in the mix, we have to be able to trust that their health and well-being are taken care of first and foremost,” Janik said.
Aloft Hotel began their dog adoption program as early as 2014, and by the year 2018, they had seen their 100th dog get adopted to a forever home.
David McCartney, the general manager, said, “We have always been a dog-friendly hotel, and in 2014, we were thinking about a community service project to do. Fostering a dog made perfect sense for us. When we brought the first dog in and set up a doggy playpen in the lobby, we saw the overwhelmingly positive reaction from guests. When the first dog got adopted in about three days, the staff felt like we couldn’t live without a dog. So, we got another, and it’s continued since then.”
Aloft isn’t solely in charge of the adoption process, but rather it works closely with Charlie’s Angels to coordinate the whole process – helping to schedule home visits as well as get the potential adopter to fill in the required paperwork.
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