It was four years ago when Christie Chipps Peters, shelter director of Richmond Animal Care & Control (RACC), came up with a great idea as she imagined people getting together with friends and family for Thanksgiving. It was just another day for shelter dogs, but did it really have to be?
So what if people could invite shelter animals over to their Thanksgiving dinners? She put the idea out in the community, and before she knew it, 35 animals had invitations! The shelter pets would get a good meal, lots of love, and be able to put themselves on display for adoption.
More than half of those animals were adopted that year, either by the family or someone who met them through that family, and it appeared that the program was a hit. Now in its fourth year, the number of shelter animals invited to Thanksgiving has since tripled. 🙂
“Sheldon is coming to my house for Thanksgiving!!!”
The program is a great way to open up the idea of fostering to people who may have never done it before. The shelter even provides each family with all of the supplies necessary, including food, medication, and a crate. The pet will return to the shelter after the week-long foster — unless that family decides to keep it.
If the family does decide to give the dog or cat a forever home, the shelter waives the adoption fee. The whole experience makes it a lot easier for people to say yes to adoption.
Lots of people all over Virginia are ready to play host to a shelter animal this year, and it’s a rewarding experience for all involved.
“The emails we get from people are so great,” Christie told The Dodo. “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.”