A good deed from 2014 might be just the right cure for loneliness during this year’s COVID holiday season.
And while it may be too late to arrange it for this Thanksgiving, there are plenty more festivities to come.
Gimmie some shelter
While shelter animals have no idea it’s Thanksgiving, it’s still hard for animal-lovers to think about them being all alone. After all, shouldn’t there be somebody under the table to help “clean up” scraps?
Christie Chipps Peters, the shelter director of Richmond Animal Care & Control (RACC) in Virginia, was getting ready for Thanksgiving in 2014 when she realized that her furry residents deserved a festive break as well.
She didn’t want it to be just another day at the shelter.
“I was feeling so sad about the dogs being alone in the shelter for Thanksgiving,” she told The Dodo. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if people could invite them over for Thanksgiving dinner?’”
Putting out the call
Soon, Peters announced her idea to the community. She wanted volunteer foster families to take in pets for Thanksgiving.
And despite the potential for added chaos on a day that could easily become stressful, she quickly got 35 volunteers.
By 2019, that number was up to 92!
According to The Dodo:
“The pets got a delicious meal, plenty of love from guests and even someone to snuggle up with on the couch for a post-dinner nap.”
And families got a chance to have an extra furry friend around and know they were doing something good as they dug into their feasts.
People have all sorts of ideas about how a temporary pet will fit into their holiday plans:
“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.”
Of course, there’s an ulterior motive. Peters hoped that some families would want to keep the pets.
“People who’ve never considered fostering before reached out to us, so excited to host one of our animals,” Peters said. “More than half of the animals that year were adopted, either by the family themselves or someone who met them through the family.”
Still giving thanks
The Thanksgiving foster program was in its 4th year when Peters spoke to The Dodo – and it’s still going strong!
On November 23, 2020, the shelter shared some photos of pets going to a home for Thanksgiving on their Facebook page.
Just look at this happy guy!
Foster families are still interviewed prior to the temporary arrangement – and they’re provided with everything they need to care for their pet-for-a-week.
“It’s a fun twist to a traditional fostering situation for people who might’ve never done it before,” Peters said. “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.”
When families decide to permanently adopt their furry guest, the shelter waives the adoption fee.
What a great idea! You can check out the Richmond Animal Care and Control Facebook page for more information.
Please SHARE this with your friends and family.