Did you know that if just 2% of pet-owning households would foster one pet a year, we would end unnecessary euthanasia tomorrow? Susanne Kogut, president of the Petco Foundation, shared this statistic in November, and it’s part of what inspired Irene Chansawang to take the leap into foster field trips this past holiday season.
Chansawang is Maddie’s Fund®s own Grants Specialist. She’s not in the position to adopt right now, or even foster overnight, but wanted to help shelter dogs in some capacity. Foster field trips seemed like the perfect solution, and the holidays seemed like the perfect time to do it.
“It was the perfect opportunity, given that it was the holidays and it would be a little quieter around the office,” said Chansawang. For each of the three dogs she brought into work, she was able to walk them around the campus, get to know them and expose them to potential adopters. She also wanted to apply what she learned from Maddie’s Fund resources, and to have a more first-hand perspective of what we, at Maddie’s Fund, are asking fosters to do for the Foster Express Challenge. And that, she did.
Chansawang fostered four dogs during December, all going out on two-hour field trips. To her delight, all of the animals were adopted within 10 days of their foster field trips, and at least one on the first day of adoptability status.
A few takeaways?
“I was surprised at how much I learned about the behavior and personality of a dog in just those few hours,” said Chansawang. “I didn’t know anything about them besides an estimate of age and general temperament. But after a few hours with them, I learned so much and was able to take photos and write biographies that captured their personalities.”
Speaking of biographies, Chansawang shared that she applied what she learned from one of Kelly Duer’s (Maddie’s Fund Foster Care Specialist) presentations on the power of positivity and marketing individual pets. It helped her ‘put the pet’s best foot forward’ and write something that people could connect to.
“Tina Turner was probably the easiest to write about. I remember what Kelly Duer said about being positive and talking about their behavior, their personality and what stands out,” she explained. Tina was described as a ‘crowd-pleaser’ for her ability to stand on her hind legs to show off her skills. “My posts received four times more engagement on social media than when I did a basic blurb for the first one.”
As for the field trip process, Chansawang said it was easy. She did have to attend a 30-minute orientation prior to participating, but each organization is different in their requirements.
For anyone thinking about participating in their local shelter’s foster field trip program, Chansawang encourages you to do so. “It’s easy to do! The second dog I took out, I just happened to be returning a purchase in the area so it was the perfect chance to stop by. I walked her around a nearby park and was able to talk to people about her and her adoptability status.”
If you’re afraid of getting too attached to a pet, Chansawang wondered the same thing about herself. However, the short time-frame and reminder that she was helping them get exposure made it easier.
“Going in, I knew that adoption wasn’t an option for me right now, and that this is how I could help shelter pets find their own adoptive families. Foster field trips were the one thing in my capacity. I’m thankful that they are an option. We know the studies that show how they’re more adoptable after these types of outings because it gives them a break, so it’s definitely making an impact.”
Of course, each one will always hold a special place in her heart.
“I had to call and check on their status to see if they’re adopted. If they hadn’t been, I would have taken them out again, or helped do more promotion, but I haven’t had to do that,” she said. “Each week that I came back, they had all been adopted. It’s almost addicting! Foster field trips are so much fun, and a great workout, too. The only cost was time and, for me, worth every minute.”