You Don’t Want to Spend Thanksgiving Alone, So Why Should a Shelter Dog?

A few weeks ago, we gave you some ideas on adoption promotions for Halloween. Now, we’re giving you an idea that your shelter can use for Thanksgiving, the winter holidays – or any holiday, really.

Last year, Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC) Director Christie Chipps Peters was thinking about how sad it was that the animals in her care would be spending Thanksgiving alone and not with a family. She thought, “wouldn’t it be great if they could all get invited for dinner?” Then, she realized she had the power to make that happen.

She and the shelter staff launched a promotion asking members of their community to invite a shelter dog to Thanksgiving dinner.

Source: Richmond Animal Care and Control/Facebook

The idea behind this isn’t totally unheard of. It’s something Kristen Auerbach, the Deputy Chief Animal Services Officer of Austin Animal Center talked about in her last guest blog. These “foster outings” help offset the negative effects some dogs can experience in a shelter. Kristen said:

“[There’s] a common challenge animal shelters face – Dogs who come into the system as great pets, get passed over for no real reason, and eventually develop behavioral issues due to the stress of the shelter environment.”

There’s also another benefit – a person might bond with the dog they foster for a few hours or a few days. That bond might result in an adoption.

AFF alumnus Berry with his new family.

That’s what happened to 20 of the 32 Richmond Animal Care and Control dogs who had Thanksgiving dinner at someone’s home. Those dogs were adopted by either the family who fostered them, or by one of their friends or family.

Even if that the promotion didn’t result in so many dogs finding homes, it had a positive impact on the dogs and on the shelter’s place in the community. Christie told us that there were long lines to foster these dogs – if you think about it, 32 people walking into a shelter practically at once to foster dogs is truly incredible.

Recently adopted AFF alumna Guava

According to Christie, these types of programs are vital to building a relationship with the community:

“I think anytime you can create a program to personalize a connection with a shelter animal you should jump on it.  It says to the community that we love our animals and we care about their happiness.”

Of course, there is a bit of work to programs like this. They’re run like any foster program. People fill out a foster survey in person and conduct a meet and greet with their family dogs (if they have them). RACC provided food and a crate for the dog – but they also armed each family with tips and instructions on how to give each individual dog the best and safest Thanksgiving holiday.

AFF available dog, Edie

If you’re a shelter worker and you want to try a promotion like this, don’t worry about it being difficult to pull off. Christie did most of her outreach on RACC’s Facebook page. She created some cute graphics, nothing complicated, and the idea spread from there.

If you’re a pet lover and would love to invite a dog (or a cat) over for Thanksgiving dinner, then contact your local shelter and tell them about this idea. You’ll not only be helping the dog you invite into your home, you’ll be helping the shelter come up with new ideas to help their dogs find homes – even if it’s only for a weekend.

Feature image via Richmond Animal Care and Control/Facebook

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