This post originally ran in December 2018, but we think it’s as relevant as ever. This year is the perfect time to bring back, start or expand your holiday fostering offerings.
Organizations across the country are getting dogs out of the shelter and into homes for the holidays through foster care. Holiday foster initiatives are usually short, from overnight to several days. Inviting the public to participate and keeping the commitment short makes it easy for community members join in (and many fosters opt to keep them for longer!).
“The holidays are a perfect time for fostering and people love having the opportunity to do a good deed,” said Kristen Auerbach, Director of Pima Animal Care Center (PACC). “For the dogs who go to foster homes, it’s priceless to see the huge smiles on their faces as they get to sleep by the fireplace and join in family photos. Often times, they even get adopted!”
Detroit Animal Care and Control saw overwhelming success with their Thanksgiving initiative this year, thanks to what they learned during the Medium and Large Adult Dog Foster Apprenticeship at PACC. “The Monday after the apprenticeship, I posted a Facebook event on our page,” said Margo Butler, a board member of Friends of Detroit Animal Care and Control. “We allowed people to come in any time during our normal business hours on Saturday, 10:30 – 3:30. We were shocked to have a line at our door when we opened, and people continued to come in right up until close.”
In all, 32 dogs went to foster that day! Twenty-one of their caregivers were first-time fosters. Twelve days later, over 70% of the dogs who went to foster were either adopted, were still in foster care or were transferred to rescue organizations based on information learned about them on their sleepovers; the remaining nine were at the shelter awaiting adoption.
Clermont Animal CARE Humane Society in Ohio reached a milestone this year, thanks to holiday foster: for the first time ever, they had more dogs in foster care than in the shelter! “We had rolled out some short-term fostering programs – lunch dates and sleepovers, inspired by learnings from the apprenticeship at PACC – so we were prepared from an organizational perspective to accommodate holiday fosters,” says Carolyn Evans, Executive Director of Clermont Animal CARE Humane Society.
“This initiative generated a lot of interest from the community, bringing out some first-time fosters,” Evans says. “In general, people have embraced the new short-term foster initiatives, and are really quite surprised and pleased to learn of this new and innovative foster opportunity at their county shelter. It’s a great way to involve the community with a small commitment and no strings attached, to begin building relationships with and support from the community.”