Maddie’s® Foster Express Challenge called on participating shelters to focus on short-term fostering to help get more dogs and cats out of the shelter during the hectic holiday season, get them more exposure and attract new foster caregivers. Short-term fostering for the challenge was defined as stays in foster care of more than two hours and two weeks or less. These inspired short-term fostering ideas like sleepovers (1-2 nights), holiday fostering and off-site field trips that last 2 hours or more. While the challenge took place from December 2019 to January 2020 with a focus on getting more animals into homes for the holidays, many shelters saw positive results that they carried on into their normal fostering programs, regardless of the season.
Given the current coronavirus pandemic and many shelters needing to resort to foster care to keep pets safe and healthy, we’ll be sharing exclusive interviews on Maddie’s Pet Forum with several of the winning shelters in hopes to inspire your own foster program – whether there are tactics you can try now or keep in your back pocket until after the shelter in place restrictions have been lifted. For each winner, we’ll feature their story here on the blog and we’ll share any resources, examples as well as a Q and A with the organization over on Maddie’s Pet Forum so be sure you’re a member!
Sand Springs Animal Welfare (SSAW) in Oklahoma was resistant to the idea of short-term fostering.
Perhaps your organization can relate. With just two staff members, they were concerned about the increase in calls to field from new fosters. They also expressed concerns about sending unaltered animals out to foster homes, as well as just a lack of interest from potential foster caregivers. Animals in foster not getting seen by the public for adoption was also a worry.
Despite their fears, they applied for the Foster Express Challenge anyway.
And alas, their concerns never came to fruition! They had two seasoned volunteers help field questions and issues with new fosters. The shelter had more interest than they anticipated and none of the animals escaped their homes, alleviating their concerns of sending out non-altered animals. Potential adopters were sent photos and videos from foster homes, mitigating the issue of the public not seeing the pets.
“Sometimes you just gotta jump in and work it out as it comes,” said Tracy Arvidson of Sand Springs Animal Welfare. “It’s a great program and should be implemented by everyone that can. The animals did so much better out of the shelter and we got to learn a lot about them from their foster parents.”
To boot, SSAW ended up winning for having the highest number of animals adopted among small shelters (i.e., an annual intake of 1,500 or less) in the challenge! We’ll be featuring all nine winners over the coming months.
Head on over to Maddie’s Pet Forum to view examples of marketing, resources used and to ask SSAW any questions you may have!