Thanksgiving is a time for family – that includes our furry friends. And one shelter in Virginia is making sure that their shelter pets have somewhere to enjoy the holiday. The Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC) has created their annual “Thanksgiving Foster” program – a chance for people to invite a foster pet into their homes for Thanksgiving.
The program is in its 5th year, and RACC is hoping for a “record number of animals spend the holiday out of the shelter.” In the last year they had 94 animals fostered for the holiday, and this year, they’re hoping to “empty the shelter.”
If you want to participate in the program, it’s very easy.
As the RACC explains on their Facebook page, “You host a RACC pet (dog or cat) for the Thanksgiving Holiday, shower them with love and snuggles and try to find them a forever home with friends and relatives or you; we do not judge if you foster fail-frankly we encourage it!”
Families are welcomed to participate, however, the shelter has one small request.
“We need families with no other pets or kids the most this year as we have so many dogs that need one on one time so please talk your kid-less/pup-less friends into participating.”
Shelter director Christie Chipps Peters is the one who came up with the foster program. She was inspired by the fact that while the holiday is all about family and friends coming together, for homeless animals in the shelter, it’s just another day – but what if there was something that could be done about that?
She figured that no harm could come of the RACC asking people to foster shelter pets for Thanksgiving dinner. The shelter would then provide the foster family with everything that they needed to care for the pet’s weeklong stay – food, medication (if they need it), and a crate. After the week is over, the families can bring the animal back to the shelter if they don’t adopt them – which, thankfully, many of the families end up doing.
Four years ago, when the idea was pitched to the community, they quickly received 35 invitations. And since then, the event is always an annual success, with many of the pets finding their forever homes by the end of the Thanksgiving holiday. One of the other additional incentives given is that if a family wants to keep the pet, the shelter will waive the adoption fees. By removing these barriers, the adoption rate has been successful.
Sheldon is coming to my house for Thanksgiving!!! #thanksgivingfoster #sheldon #racc
In fact, it’s been so successful that one year, more than half the animals were adopted by their foster family, or by friends of the foster family. One of these success stories was a dog named Miss Belle.
Eva Gilliland posted a picture from last year of Miss Belle on Facebook, captioning it, “My foster failure from last Thanksgiving, Miss Belle.”
Another dog had a similar experience as new owner Ka’DeeDee Harris recounted on Facebook, saying, “Soon as I brought her (on the right) home last year she was attached to all of us…she had to stay in the family.”
And dogs aren’t the only ones experiencing this bit of luck either, as Alexandra Francis said, “My foster failures from last year! Best decision I made!”
In 2018, Peters discussed the program to the Dodo, saying, “It’s a fun twist to a traditional fostering situation for people who might’ve never done it before. The emails we get from people are so great. They run from, ‘I’m here in Virginia on work and my family’s far away — I’d love to have a friend to cook with for Thanksgiving’ to messages like, ‘We just lost our Labrador of 13 years and we have an empty house now … We’d love nothing more than to have a pet here for the holiday.’ It’s just a feel-good moment as the city shelter that we can open this up for people who love animals.”
What a fantastic idea. Hopefully, more shelters adopt similar programs in their quest to rehome their pets since every single animal deserves a warm and loving home for the holidays.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
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