Thanksgiving is one of the only times of year that we all come together. Problems are put aside, and we sit around the table, and give thanks for what we have.This applies not only to humans, but our four-legged friends, too – especially shelter animals.
This is something that occurred to a woman named Christie Chipps Peters, who is the shelter director of Richmond Animal Care & Control (RACC). Christie was gearing up for the holiday back in 2014. She imagined people getting together with friends and family for their Thanksgiving feasts, while back at the shelter, it was just another day for the poor homeless animals in her shelter.
“I was feeling so sad about the dogs being alone in the shelter for Thanksgiving,” Peters told The Dodo. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if people could invite them over for Thanksgiving dinner?’”
Christie decided to take action, and put a call out to the community. Before she knew it, 35 animals were out of the shelter and on their way to spend Thanksgiving with a generous foster family. While it’s not quite as good as getting the animals into their forever home, it was such a great experience for the pets. The pets got a delicious meal, along with plenty of love from guests, and even someone to snuggle up with on the couch for a post-dinner nap.
Peters talked about how positive the experience was: “People who’ve never considered fostering before reached out to us, so excited to host one of our animals,” she said. “More than half of the animals that year were adopted, either by the family themselves or someone who met them through the family.”
Sheldon is coming to my house for Thanksgiving!!! #thanksgivingfoster #sheldon #racc
The Thanksgiving foster program is now in its fourth year, and the number of pets who have plans for the holiday has nearly TRIPLED, thanks to an overwhelming amount of people who apply to participate year-on-year.
“It’s a fun twist to a traditional fostering situation for people who might’ve never done it before,” Christie 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.”
It’s great to hear that some of the families find themselves falling in love with their foster pets, and make the adoption permanent. One of the ways the shelter makes this process easier is that, if families do choose to adopt the pet they host, the shelter waives the usual adoption fee. This year, Peters has a few senior animals in mind that she especially hopes will find homes for the holidays this year.
“Elton is my favorite old little man,” Peters said. “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.”
This year, the shelter will be pairing families with a pet from Nov. 18 through Nov. 21 – ie, right now! If you’re in the area, get in touch with RACC as soon as possible. Fosters are interviewed so they can be paired with the perfect pet, and then they can bring the animal home that day for the week-long foster.
As expected, Christie has already had an massive amount of interest from people all over Virginia hoping to host a pet for Thanksgiving this year. And it’s not just the animals who end up benefiting from the experience, she says.
“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.”
I’m so glad we have organisations like RACC out there to look after these gorgeous animals, as well as kind families who want to take them in at this special time of year. Here’s hoping that they all find their forverhomes soon.