Hotel Starts Pet Fostering Program To Help Guests Feel Less Lonely
They've already helped over 60 pups find their furr-ever homes.
When you walk in the doors of the Home2 Suites hotel in Biloxi, MS, you might be greeted by a bark or a friendly tail wag. You might even feel inclined to give a belly rub.
The hotel started a program in 2018 in partnership with the Humane Society of South Mississippi. The program is called "Fostering Hope," and it allows the hotel to foster one dog at a time in hopes of finding the animal a new home with the guests who stay there.
The dogs mostly hang out in the hotel's lobby, but guests can walk, feed and babysit them during their say. And if someone wants to take a dog home with them, they just need to pay a $50 fee and they can adopt them right from the hotel.
Fergus is one of the 60+ dogs that have been adopted thanks to Fostering Hope. Home2 Suites by Hilton Biloxi North/D'Iberville, MS/Facebook
Fostering Hope was the idea of Teresa Johnston, the Director of Sales at Home2 Suites. She felt that while the hotel was doing a pretty good job of giving their guests the feeling of home, there was one thing missing: pets.
Once one of the dogs gets adopted, they bring another one in from the shelter. Since it started, the program has helped over 60 dogs find their "furr-ever" homes.
Since Home2 Suites is an extended stay location, guests often book rooms for months at a time. Johnston could tell they were feeling lonely being in a hotel that long, and she felt the program could accomplish two things at once.
"We have a lot of extended-stay guests with Keesler Air Force Base, Ingalls Shipbuilding and other supporting industries," Johnston told Bored Panda. "I could see that our guests were lonely, and I wanted to fill a void for them and at the same time help our community."
The program also frees up space at the shelter, which takes in about 8,000 dogs a year.
While most guests can take home a dog without any problems, the Humane Society does have the right to refuse an adoption. If that happens, they typically invite people to come by the shelter and choose another animal that's a better fit.
And it's not just the hotel's guests who are finding their new best friends in the lobby. A handful of Home2 Suites employees have taken home animals, sometimes more than one.
Vincent Nargot, who works at the hotel's front desk, recently adopted his sixth dog through the program. Now, he can't imagine life before Chico the chihuahua.
Nargot said that Johnston called him one day when she was on her way back to the hotel after picking Chico up from the shelter.
"She said 'you better have your $50 ready,'" Nargot recalled, referring to the adoption fee. "She walks in with the dog, she made it two feet in the hotel and I was like, 'Yep that's mine.'"
Home2 Suites guests can walk, feed and doggy-sit the foster dogs at the hotel. Home2 Suites by Hilton Biloxi North/D'Iberville, MS/Facebook
Johnston says she hopes that other hotels will take her lead and start their own pet fostering programs.
"It takes a property cheerleader, a strong operations team and a commitment to the local shelter to find homes for all these animals one at a time. Love what you do!" she said.
What an awesome idea! Kudos to Johnston and her team for helping shelter animals while giving her guests the gift of animal companionship.