Since October of 2018, the Homes 2 Suites by Hilton Biloxi North/D’Iberville has been changing the lives of shelter dogs and hotel guests alike through their program, Fostering Hope. The hotel allows its guests a chance to foster a shelter dog from the Human Society of South Mississippi during their stay!
This unique idea has helped plenty of dogs find their forever homes as the program will allow a hotel guest to adopt the dog they’ve fostered at the end of their stay. Plus, it also allows the shelter dogs a chance to get out of the kennel shelters and live in a more normal environment.
The hotel running the program often sees long-term guests who book for extended periods – sometimes even months. That is why it is the perfect environment to host a foster program.
As Bianca Janik, the shelter’s relations manager, explained to USA Today, “They have a lot of transient guests who stay for months at a time near our army and navy bases and that’s just enough time to fall in love with a dog.”
However, it was Teresa Johnston, the hotel’s sales director, who thought up this brilliant program. After Janik had gotten in contact with the hotel, Johnston thought that a long-term foster program could work well.
“Teresa thought they needed to set their hotel apart and this was it. She wanted to have the business more involved with the community. It was a very out-of-the-box way to find our animal’s new homes so we were on board,” Janik said.
If one of the hotel’s guests were to show an interest in adopting their foster dog, all they’d need to do is fill out the application form and pay a $50 adoption fee – all in the convenience of the hotel.
Janik said, “We have a very open adoption program. People are trying to do the right thing by adopting it. We reserve the right to deny. (We) may tell them we don’t feel comfortable, come visit our shelter tomorrow and we’ll find one that is right.”
Every year, the HSSM shelter takes in about 8,000 dogs, but the good news is that roughly 80% of those dogs end up being adopted out to good homes. The HSSM offers their dog adoptees the following: neuter or spay, microchipping, up to date vaccinations, and preventative heartworm medication. According to Bored Panda, because of the Home 2 Suites “Fostering Hope” program, there have been roughly 33 hotel guests who have adopted ended up taking home the dogs they fostered – there’s no doubt that made a huge difference to those dogs’ lives.
Janik believes that the shelter’s careful selection process, as well as the hotel staff’s good judgment skills, are the reasons for such success within the fostering/adoption program. The shelter is hopeful that the program will expand to other hotels, but they won’t rush anything since not all the shelter dogs can be suited to living life in a hotel. While people may not think so, there is definitely a lot more thought and effort that goes into the initiative – it’s not as simple as just dropping off a ton of dogs to live at a hotel with the guests.
“Because there are live animals are in the mix, we have to be able to trust that their health and well-being are taken care of first and foremost,” Janik said.
Aloft Hotel began its dog adoption program as early as 2014, and by the year 2018, they had seen their 100th dog get adopted to a forever home.
David McCartney, the general manager, stated, “We have always been a dog-friendly hotel, and in 2014, we were thinking about a community service project to do. Fostering a dog made perfect sense for us. When we brought the first dog in and set up a doggy playpen in the lobby, we saw the overwhelmingly positive reaction from guests. When the first dog got adopted in about three days, the staff felt like we couldn’t live without a dog. So, we got another, and it’s continued since then.”
Aloft isn’t solely in charge of the adoption process, but rather it works closely with Charlie’s Angels to coordinate the whole process – helping to schedule home visits as well as to get the potential new family to fill in all required paperwork.