Thanksgiving is a time to gather around loved ones — and that includes pets.
But what about those animals who will be spending their holiday in a shelter?
Shelter director of Richmond Animal Care & Control (RACC), Christie Chipps Peters, wanted to solve this problem four years ago.
Peters thought a lot about all the homeless animals who would miss out on a community during a day where love and warmth are the centerpieces and wanted to make a change.
“I was feeling so sad about the dogs being alone in the shelter for Thanksgiving,” Peters shared with The Dodo. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if people could invite them over for Thanksgiving dinner?’”
Peters decided to create a call to action in her community and soon enough, 35 animals were taken out of the shelter and spending their Thanksgiving with a foster family.
The animals not only received lots of love and attention but also, a hearty meal and lots of post-Turkey snuggles.
“People who’ve never considered fostering before reached out to us, so excited to host one of our animals,” Peters shared. “More than half of the animals that year were adopted, either by the family themselves or someone who met them through the family.”
The number of pets who have plans this Thanksgiving has now tripled thanks to the Thanksgiving foster program that is now in its fourth year along with the staggering amount of folks who apply to help.
“It’s a fun twist to a traditional fostering situation for people who might’ve never done it before,” Peters went on to say. “The shelter provides the supplies you need, such as food, medication and a crate, and the following Wednesday after Thanksgiving the pet comes back. But a lot of the times, the pets never have to come back to the shelter. We try to make it really easy for people to say yes and keep that pet forever.”
And if families do decide to adopt the pet they host for the holidays, the shelter waives the adoption fee.
Peters has I high hopes this Thanksgiving, a few of the older animals will find forever homes for the holidays.
“Elton is my favorite old little man,” Peters shared. “He’s a 9-year-old pit bull who would love to find his forever home. And then there’s Taco, my favorite of the cats. He came in ear-tipped, which means he was feral, but then he decided he didn’t want to be feral anymore. He’s a huge fluffy guy and would make a great Thanksgiving friend.”
Starting Nov. 18 through Nov. 21, the shelter will be pairing families with a pet. And foster families are interviewed prior so they can be matched up with the best fit.
And once matched, families are able to bring the animal home that day for the week-long holiday foster.
Peters says there has already been a huge wave of interest from folks all over Virginia to help host a pet for Thanksgiving this year. And she says it is not just the pets who benefit from the fostering…
“The emails we get from people are so great,” Peters said. “They run from, ‘I’m here in Virginia on work and my family’s far away — I’d love to have a friend to cook with for Thanksgiving’ to messages like, ‘We just lost our Labrador of 13 years and we have an empty house now … We’d love nothing more than to have a pet here for the holiday.’ It’s just a feel-good moment as the city shelter that we can open this up for people who love animals.”
This Thanksgiving, if you are in the area and are interested in hosting a Richmond Animal Care & Control pet, you can email Christie Chipps Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not live in the area but are interested in fostering, you can still lend a helping hand by considering signing up at your local animal shelter.
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