What do you do when your shelter offers short-term “holiday” dog-fostering over Thanksgiving, and nearly half of those dogs fostered get adopted… including seniors, a shy dog and other long-term residents? If you’re the Humane Society of Delaware County (HSDC) in Ohio, you start gearing up for the #FalalaFoster season, of course!
“Seeing pictures of an animal in a house help people picture them in their own home when considering adoption,” said Natalie Yeager, Dog Program Coordinator at HSDC. “It also gives us more information about how the dog acts in a home, involves the community and may even attract new foster homes. It’s so worth it!”
Naturally, it helped that the community was excited about the opportunity. They even had more foster offers than they did dogs
“People were looking forward to helping a dog over the holiday and having something fun and different for their family. Some were considering adoption and took this opportunity. Others aren’t able to have a pet due to schedules, etc., and enjoyed the short-term experience!”
Yeager shared that of the 21 dogs placed in foster homes over the holiday, eight ended up getting adopted, and two are currently out on promising foster-to-adopt trials.
“Three dogs were adopted by their Thanksgiving foster home, including a large senior who had been constantly overlooked, a ‘dog selective’ Lab with recent tail surgery, and a 6-month-old puppy who was recently returned. Another two adults and three puppies were adopted the day they came back to the shelter and two are out on two-week trial adoptions.
Kurt Sima, foster of shy-dog Chong, shares that this was his family’s first time ever fostering.
“We thought it would be fun to foster a dog for a few days, plus we learned that fostering a dog helps the dog,” said Sima. “We have a couple of dogs and couple of cats, so we requested a dog that got along with dogs and cats. Chong was a great match!”
Yeager explained that Chong was scared of his own shadow and recently lost his brother, Cheech.
“To have him in a home instead of the shelter was a great thing for him – I’m sure he slept well! He came back and was adopted the next day by a family who has experience with shy dogs,” said Yeager. “Having a report card from the Simas to share with them was really helpful in setting up their expectations.”
Sima said his family’s favorite part about Chong was that he was very timid, and that they could get him to come out of his shell.
“I think we helped him. It was nice to see his confidence grow even in a short period of time. We also provided some insight about him that was used to let people know more about his personality… this helped during his adoption process.”
His least favorite part? As you might expect, “Taking him back was tough. But, Chong was adopted the day we returned him to the humane society, so that made us very happy!”
Sima also explained how the process was very turn-key. HSDC provided everything: food, a bed, toys and a crate. Pick up and drop off were extremely easy.”
In addition to Chong, Yeager shared the story of Lucas, a long-term resident who was super-smart with endless energy, but they’d never seen him out of the shelter, so they had no idea how he’d act in a home.
“To be on the safe side, we had recommended children over 10 years only for adoption. However, the family who asked to foster him had a 1, 3, and 5 year old, a cat, and a 4-foot fence. I asked them to come in to meet him, since he’s interacted well with kids here, but I wanted to be safe. To everyone’s delight, he loved the kids!”
Lucas’ foster took so many pictures of him, including napping with the baby and playing well with the kids outside. “Lucas did great and his foster report card and photos have been invaluable in helping us counsel potential adopters,” said Yeager. “So many question marks we had were answered!”
Thinking of trying out a short-term or holiday foster program of your own? Yeager happily to shares her advice.
“Definitely do it! If you need to work the kinks out first, do it on a smaller scale. Still take foster applications and prepare people the way you would with a long-term foster. Prepare fosters with everything they might need – crates, meals with portions and times of day to feed, bios and behavior information, toys, beds, kennels, etc. Give them a reliable way to contact someone in case of emergency, or even if they just have a question.”
She continued, “People need to feel that you are supporting them, especially if they aren’t very experienced with a pet. And definitely have them take pictures and fill out some kind of ‘foster report card’ for any new details that will help in adoption counseling.”
As for anyone considering fostering over the holidays, Sima encourages, “Give it a try! It added some excitement to our house for sure. Think about the environment and be prepared to spend time with the dog. Also be prepared to shed a tear when you return the dog, but remember that you’ve provided them with a much needed break from the shelter, key information for potential adopters and likely helped him or her find their forever home much quicker!”
When asked if they would they do it again, Sima replied, “Absolutely.”
Does your organization offer short-term or holiday fostering? We’d love to hear about your experience! Fosters, that goes for you, too! Reach out us at firstname.lastname@example.org and reference this blog post. And, don’t forget to tag your holiday foster photos with #FalalaFoster this holiday season!