These organizations adopted out 100% of the animals that participated in the Maddie's Fund Foster Express Challenge. In our final challenge feature, we asked each organization to share their surprising results from the challenge and an adoption story of a pet that found a forever home with the help of short-term fostering.
Friends of Strays
Saint Petersburg, FL
All 17 Dogs in Challenge Were Adopted
"We were surprised at how much easier it is to market our dogs to adopters when we have information about their behavior outside the shelter. People are much more receptive to taking a dog home when we can give them concrete information about their temperament, and not just guess based on kennel presence."
Alton's Adoption Story:
Alton went on a Doggy Day Out and his short-term foster filled out a report card on their time together. We learned that he's housebroken, loves to meet new people, likes to cuddle, walks great on his leash in a busy environment, and so much more. We attached the report card to Alton's kennel, and the next day he was adopted because of it!
"We started our Doggy Day Out program in 2019 and have seen such incredible growth in dog adoptions. The program allows our dogs to get much needed time out of the shelter and helps us better understand their personalities so we can match them with the perfect families. Friends of Strays has predominately been a cat shelter for most of our 42 year history, but programs like Doggy Day Out are helping us take in and save more dogs than ever before. We plan on building on the success of our short term foster program with a more robust long term foster program to help us reach more homeless and abandoned dogs in our community. We would be happy to speak with other shelters considering similar programs."
A Path 4 Paws Dog Rescue
Amargosa Valley, NV
All 103 Dogs in Challenge Were Adopted
"It seems that during the Holiday's more dogs are surrendered to to family changes, people moving and sadly, those who just want a new, younger pup. A Path 4 Paws believes every dog deserves a good loving home, so we will never turn away any dog that may otherwise wind up on the streets or in a shelter. And again, the number of caring people who stepped up this year to help foster these dogs has been just amazing, because of our growing support and followers, we were able to save so many more dogs using our new Fostering is a Family Affair Program, where the entire family has a role to play in fostering and caring for our dogs while waiting to be adopted. Also because of our Foster Program, we are able to reach more of the community to educate owners on proper care, feeding, the importance of spay/neuter/vaccinations and microchips, all of this outreach leads to more responsible long term pet ownership."
Dash's Adoption Story:
"This is Dash's Christmas Story of how his Christmas Wish came true all because of A Path 4 Paws Dog Rescue and why Fostering matters. This little guy is named Dash, a 7-year told Schnoodle who only knew fear and looking for places to hide as he grew up in a home with domestic violence. He never knew a safe place to hide as he didn't want to get in the way. Thank goodness for A Path 4 Paws Dog Rescue who came along and saved him. Little did Dash know was Santa had very special plans for him when he was placed in Tiara Renoll's home as her 100th Foster Dog. The love and experience that Tiara offered Dash was something he had never seen before. Dash just couldn't believe the kindness Tiara and her family offered him. He had his own bed and toys, there were regular meals, playtime and walks. Dash had no idea how handsome he was until he went to the groomer and had a complete makeover. Now, Dash is happy, healthy, knows love and wants to return that love in his forever adoptive home. A very special Thank You goes to Tiara, Congratulations on your 100th Foster Dog, she has saved so many dogs, she is the inspiration behind A Path 4 Paws Dog Rescue's successful Foster Program."
Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region
Colorado Springs, CO
All 28 Dogs in Challenge Were Adopted
"We were surprised at the amount of people who participated; we had many fosters who aren't regulars step up to take on these short-term animals, and it was a great way to get them re-engaged with the program."
Colby's Adoption Story:
"Colby was a dog who had been on the adoption floor for over 3 weeks with no interest; this is a long time for us as our average length of stay is around 6 days. His behavior was beginning to decline, and we were running out of options. We decided to send Colby to foster to see what would happen, and his behavior did a total 180 the second he left the building. His foster described him as a perfect gentleman and a doll of a dog, so we put Colby up for adoption from the foster home. It took him 3 days of being available from foster before he got snatched up! It was great to see a dog who sat here for so long and did so poor turn around and find his forever home in a matter of days; all because he went to foster!"
"This was a great way to help us think outside the box of what we normally send to foster; because our LOS is so short, we typically do not pull available dogs off the adoption floor and place them into foster. But, we are now watching to find any kiddos who stay longer than normal, and we are sending them to foster. It is also amazing to see how quickly they get adopted from foster even if they sat in the shelter for long periods of time."
Humane Society of Washington County
All 22 Dogs and 1 Cat in Challenge Were Adopted
"I was really surprised how excited people were to do it! We started our Sleepover program in October, so we had barely gotten going with it when the Challenge started. One of the things we did to get our numbers during the Challenge was to do special holiday fostering for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve, and people responded really well! Our Thanksgiving fostering post reached almost 49,000 people (we rarely have more than a few hundred), and had 415 shares (we rarely have more than a few), and we got about 50 new page likes. That was just on the Foster Care page, too! The regular shelter page had another 324 shares. We had had 8 people attend our orientations in October & the beginning of November, and then when we announced the holiday fostering, we had 28 people attend! We didn't have nearly as many dogs as we did people who wanted to take them. I made a 'pup'kin pie for every dog in the shelter, and we sent the Sleepover dogs all home with a can of Blue Buffalo 'Turkey Day Feast'. For all three holidays, we got every available dog out!"
Sylvia's Adoption Story:
"I was contacted by the local ambulance company about fostering over Christmas. They chose a lovely girl named Sylvia. She had been with us for about a month. She's a pittie, and they always take longer for us to adopt out. They posted several times about her holiday on their Facebook page, and they raised the money to cover her adoption fee. But, one of the EMTs fell in love! He & his wife brought their dog in to meet her the next day & adopted her. We weren't even open yet, but the Adoptions manager was there, and she was so excited that Sylvia was getting adopted that they did the adoption right then."
Posh Pets Rescue
New York, NY
All 12 Dogs and 7 Cats in Challenge Were Adopted
"Short-term fostering for both dogs and cats can help us understand an animal's personality in a home setting so we can truly find the best home for them. Also, taking photographs in a home setting is better for promoting the animals on the website as people tend to feel more connected to the pet in a home rather than seeing cages in the background as you would in a shelter setting. Potential adopters can visualize the dog or cat sitting on their own couch, or a cat sitting in a window looking out at the birds, or a dog playing in the yard with children. As for day trips outside of the shelter, the dogs who get to go on hikes or visits, once they've calmed down from the initial excitement of being out of the shelter, showed their true personalities. That also helps us describe them better to potential adopters. We plan to promote both short-term fostering and day trips with local businesses in order to get more people from the community involved."
Leo's Adoption Story:
"I wasn't planning on fostering a cat at that time but Leo's owner was terminally ill and she was entering hospice the next day so I knew he needed me. Leo was out and about right away so getting to know his personality is pretty easy. He also was so cute I couldn't stop photographing him so it came as no surprise he was adopted quickly. Short term fostering Leo for Posh Pets gave his owner peace in her final days and helped us find Leo a forever home."
"Surprisingly, people seemed more open to taking animals short term as we realized what seemed to deter a lot of people from fostering previously is they don't have time to commit. So the idea of overnight or under two weeks is a very good idea for those who can't foster long term, Also just spending one day with a dog fits in many people's lifestyles. Either of these options was welcomed by many, who always wanted to help but just knew they didn't have the time. For us it gets the animals adopted quicker, leaving us room to rescue more animals"
Panhandle Animal Welfare Society
Fort Walton Beach, FL
All 51 Dogs in Challenge Were Adopted
"While going through the files to find which dogs went on short-term fosters, which we call 'doggy dates' or 'doggy sleepovers,' I thought just a few would have been adopted. I was surprised that the vast majority were. The program helps solidify the decision. It's like seeing a car in a showroom for a brief period of time. You can touch it and walk around it, but you don't really commit until taking it out for a test drive."
Billie Jean's Adoption Story:
"Billie Jean, a treeing walker coonhound, was very shy in the kennels and often overlooked. Hounds don't do well in the kennels, too. There are too many smells and they want to GO and explore. A nice man decided she would come home with him for Christmas, and she blossomed. He posted multiple, fantastic pictures, which we shared, and she was adopted a little over a week later. Foster posted on Christmas Day: 'Billie Jean is enjoying her Christmas doggy date, full of great meals, other dogs, presents, parks, the beach and free-roaming land.'"
"A local brewery heard about the program and reached out to us to schedule a Feb. 15 event based around it. It is the 'Do-Over Valentine's Doggy Date.' If you didn't have a date for Valentine's Day, you can have something even better with a dog. We changed the name of the slumber party to 'one-night stand.' (Obviously, this is tongue-in-cheek. Hey, it's a bar event.) People already are setting up their 'dates' almost a month in advance! Also, we're looking into best practices to expand this program for cats"
Dallas Animal Services
All 31 Dogs in Challenge Were Adopted
"We were really surprised how many people were interested in participating for this event!"
Buddy's Adoption Story:
"This comes from a walk-in short term foster parent who ended up taking a very shut down dog to Foster based on recommendations from staff and volunteers. He ended up loving this foster pet so much, he adopted! Here is what he wrote after the first day.
'Today was my first day out of the shelter with my foster parents. He took me to Nature Preserve. I also got to run around and meet other dogs. Afterward, I took a bath that really made me feel clean and back to my normal self again. I am currently getting ready to eat and watch TV with my Foster Dad. This is the best Christmas gift a dog could ever ask for. Thank you Sincerely, Buddy A1035213'"
Thanks again for all of the organizations that participated in the Foster Express Challenge! Feel free to ask any questions or comments to the participants below.
You can view the previous features and interviews with the challenge winners here: https://maddiespetforum.org/tagged/foster-express-challenge/