March 28, 2024
Categories: Uncategorized

“One of the best things we could have done for our shelter was create our Paws Around the Pee Dee program,” says Wendy Ransome, a foster coordinator, data manager and volunteer from Darlington County Humane Society in Darlington, South Carolina. (Pee Dee is a region in the northeast corner of South Carolina, which lies along the Pee Dee River.)  The foster field trip program was developed when Ransome took the Short Term Foster and Field Trips Online Instructor-Led Course through Maddie’s® University and the shelter participated in the We Foster Challenge. “The challenge presented by Maddie’s was just what we needed to step outside of our box and try something different.”  

“Our last Paws Around the Pee Dee saw 41 dogs leave for the day,” Ransome says. “These events have allowed our community to be voices for our shelter friends. We have people who only come out for these events.  So, while we may only have 3-5 people sign up to handle a dog at an adoption event, we have 50 sign up to take a dog out for the same number of hours. Amazing!”

With recent research showing that going on a field trip increases a dog’s chance of adoption by five times, consider creating a field trip program like Paws Around the Pee Dee. Here are some of the keys to their success:

Participating in the program is easy. “Community members arrive at our shelter, sign in, our team finds a dog to match the group, then they are off!” says Ransome. “These matches have led to adoption and foster offers. We could have never imagined the impact this program would have on both the shelter and the community.”

They didn’t waste time recreating the wheel. They used our Field Trip Pilot Program Toolkit as a template for its program, and you can too! “Our success is heavily weighted in the toolkits supplied to us,” Ransome says. “Those tools were priceless to us.”

They opened their program to community participation. Research suggests that involving the community (rather than only allowing volunteers and staff to participate) makes for more successful programs.    

They created a program that’s sustainable for their shelter. While some organizations have the ability to send dogs on field trips every day, this schedule isn’t feasible for everyone. Paws Around the Pee Dee’s events are scheduled and promoted individually, usually on Saturdays.

The program’s events are marketed widely (and not just on social media). In addition to having its own Facebook page, the shelter developed local business partners who help them get the word out. For their St. Patrick’s Day themed event, they created advertisements which ran in local magazines and obtained coverage from local news channels.

Maddie’s Fund’s Online Instructor-Led Courses will open again for applications in the fall. In the meantime, you can learn more by taking the Short-Term Foster and Field Trips course on Maddie’s® University.