No one, even shelter dogs, should have to spend Thanksgiving alone.
Christie Chipps Peters, shelter director of Richmond Animal Care & Control (RACC), had this thinking four years ago while she was preparing for the holidays. She pictured humans celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and family, while it was just another day at the animal shelter for the destitute.
Peters told The Dodo, “I was very concerned about the dogs being alone in the shelter for Thanksgiving.” “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people invited them over for Thanksgiving dinner?’” says the author.
Peters sent out a call to the community, and 35 animals were out of the shelter and on their way to celebrate Thanksgiving with a caring foster family before she knew it. The pets were treated to a fantastic supper, lots of affection from the visitors, and even someone to cuddle up with on the couch for a nap after dinner.
“People who had never thought about fostering before contacted us, ecstatic to house one of our animals,” Peters added. “That year, more than half of the animals were adopted, either by the family or by someone they met via the family.”
The Thanksgiving foster program is now in its fourth year, and the number of pets that have arrangements for the holiday has nearly tripled as a result of the overwhelming number of people who apply.
“For those who haven’t done it before, it’s a fun spin on a regular fostering situation,” Peters said. “The shelter gives the necessary supplies, such as food, medication, and a kennel, and the pet is returned the following Wednesday after Thanksgiving.” However, in many cases, the dogs are never required to return to the shelter. We aim to make it as simple as possible for folks to say yes and retain their pet for the rest of their lives.”
If a family decides to adopt the pet they are hosting, the adoption cost is waived by the shelter. Peters has a few elderly animals in mind for Thanksgiving, and she’s hoping they’ll find homes in time for the holidays.
“My favorite old tiny chap is Elton,” Peters remarked. “He’s a 9-year-old pit bull looking for his everlasting home.” Then there’s Taco, my personal favorite among the kitties. He came in with ear tips, indicating that he was wild, but he later decided that he didn’t want to be feral any more. He’s a big fluffy guy who’d be a fantastic Thanksgiving companion.”
The shelter will link families with pets from Nov. 18 to Nov. 21 this year. Fosters are interviewed so that they may be matched with the right pet, and they can then take the animal home the same day for a week of foster care.
People from all around Virginia have shown interest in hosting a pet for Thanksgiving this year, as Peters predicted. She claims that the experience benefits everyone, not just the animals.