Amy Baker-Jones, Executive Director of Ohio Alleycat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic, told us a little more about the strategy that won them an award for a high number of adoptions during the Foster Express Challenge. 233 of their pets spent time in foster homes and 168 of them were adopted by the end of the Challenge.
How did you promote short-term fostering options?
Our team really had fun with this. We used a lot of holiday names and then would really promote great “fun” photos that would go along with the names. For example, our story about “Buddy the Elf” used quotes from the movie Elf. Even if those cats were already “on deck” to go to a foster, the attention it garnered in our private Facebook group would really gain excitement and momentum. We also constantly talked about these cats are aimed for adoption soon, so there was an urgency behind getting them flipped in and out of the home and the need for data to come back on the cat.
What advice would you give to someone interested in starting or running a short-term fostering program?
People are busy but are still wanting to foster. We found great success in making it more convenient for people to join us by scheduling orientation at a new foster’s convenience and trying to say yes to [removing] all barriers and allowing everyone who wants to contribute to be allowed to.
What is your favorite story about a pet who benefitted from the challenge?
We had a family foster a group of kittens over a 10 day period. Not only did all of the kittens get adopted straight from the foster home, we had to hunt outside of our current shelter inventory to fulfill the requests for similar kittens by wonderful family members associated with the group. We have a 12 family group raising all of the kittens together and having playdates within family and friends.
How has your organization built upon its Foster Express success?
We have continued with what we’ve learned. With the award, we have started a volunteer behavior team and we have given fosters a new tool with pairing them up with behavior coordinators to help with socialization tips and direction as soon as the cat is in foster.
Any parting thoughts?
We are fortunate enough to have an established and strong foster program, but this challenge really stepped things up for us. It became a fun side note with everyone stepping up to take on just a little bit more than usual (FeLV foster, ringworm foster, extra cat). It brought our established team even closer as staff as well by cheering on each foster as they picked up and brought back. We also took a lot of social media photos and involved our social network, which established stronger adoptions through the event as well.