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. We’ll be sharing exclusive interviews on Maddie’s Pet Forum as well as on the blog with several of the winning shelters in hopes to inspire your own foster program.
The Bowling Green/Warren County Humane Society was already offering short-term foster care when they signed up for the Foster Express Challenge last year. Participating in the challenge only further solidified their commitment to the program. With 295 participating pets, they won for highest number of animals in challenge for a large shelter.
If a potential foster was hesitant to make the commitment, “Slumber Parties” were offered as a way to dip their toes into the water. With the animal being in their home for one to three nights, the foster/adopter was better equipped to make the decision. And if they decided to not to adopt, that was okay, too! “The pet had a vacation away from the shelter environment and the foster parents were able to give us helpful information about them for future adopters,” said Mallory O’Neil, Communications Manager. “Either way, it was a win-win for the shelter, adopters, and the animals.”
And while Bowling Green has great relationships with their local media and robust social media followings, they found that word of mouth was their greatest promoter. Gently suggesting the program to an adopter proved to be a great method to get the community involved.
O’Neil also shared that fostering was a great way for quieter staff members to get involved and brought an exciting energy to their center. Those quiet kennel attendants became the biggest ambassadors for the challenge she said. “Every time I walked through the kennels I would hear one of them say ‘you don’t have to adopt but you could take them home for the weekend,’” O’Neil said.
If your organization is still on the fence about short-term fostering, O’Neil says to go for it. “We have run into little to no issues with the program, and by putting faith in our adopters, we have witnessed the success of short-term fostering,” she said. “Any of the fears that we had going into the program (returns, losing contact with adopters, etc.) were quickly diminished. We would have not had so many wonderful adoptions if we had not been willing to take the chance!”
Head on over to Maddie’s Pet Forum to view examples of marketing, resources used and to ask Bowling Green/Warren County Humane Society any questions you may have!