Thanksgiving is a holiday to spend with the people you love, enjoying a good meal. When it comes to this holiday, no one deserves to spend it alone, especially a dog that lives in a shelter. That was the inspiration for a woman named Christie Chipps Peters, the shelter director for Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC). Four years ago, she was inspired by the holiday to start a program for Thanksgiving. Christie knew how important it was for a dog to have a warm, loving place to go even if it was just for a few days. So, she put a call out to the local community for help. Numerous people responded and in total, 35 animals (both dogs and cats!) spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with foster families. All were given a good meal, and got plenty of love and affection from extended family and friends.
Many of the people who reached out for the Thanksgiving program had not considered fostering a dog before, but the program was the motivation they needed. Best of all, over half the animals fostered were adopted into loving homes after their foster ended. The dogs were either adopted by the families who fostered them or by friends or family who met the dogs on Thanksgiving. The program has been in place for four years now and the interest in participation has tripled during that time.
Christie says it’s a great twist on a traditional fostering situation and the best part? The shelter provides all the supplies needed: they give participants medication if needed, food, a crate, and anything else they might need. Dogs are due back to the shelter the following Wednesday after Thanksgiving, but often they never return, because they found their forever homes. Christie says the best part of the program is the emails they receive from people who are interested and their take after the program ends. So many people are away from family and just need a companion, while others recently lost a pet and missed having a dog in their homes. Regardless of their situation, it’s clear the program is a big hit!