You might be playing host to friends and family this holiday season, but local animal shelters hope you might make room for one more.
“Home for the Pawlidays” is a new, short-term fostering program through the Pensacola Humane Society in which cats and dogs get out of the shelter and into homes for the holiday. Call it a Thanksgiving slumber party, or an excuse to make a new fur friend — it benefits the shelter and the animal.
“Shelters can be a stressful place — the sounds and smells,” said Darra Flanagan of Pensacola Humane Society. “This allows pets to get some much-needed rest and helps us get some much-needed information about the animals.”
So far, all of the dogs are paired up with fosters; just a few spots remain for cats. Pets stay over for two nights and can be dropped off Friday morning when, coincidentally enough, the shelter will have their own Black Friday event with adoption fees waived for the first five adopters who walk through the door. All other adoptions are $10 with a donation from the shelter’s wish list.
“Kittens will also be two for one since they go better in pairs,” said Flanagan.
Short-term foster programs like this help alleviate overcrowding at local county shelters, said Clara Cappas, foster coordinator at Pensacola Humane Society.
“In the last 18 months, we have done a lot of work reshaping programs to help take in 500 animals from Escambia and Santa Rosa County,” she said. “We have 83 kennels and about 50 fosters … every foster that takes in an animal makes more room in the shelter.”
Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter is constantly at capacity. Two weeks ago, the shelter started the “Doggy Day Out” program that pairs volunteers and dogs for the afternoon. The shelter is also hosting its own “Paws for the Holidays” with shelter dogs and cats spending time with foster families through Monday. You can find the foster application online. The shelter is also having an adoption special with waived fees for cats and kittens through Saturday.
The short-term fostering has been so successful, the shelter is already looking to expand the program during Christmastime.
Annie Blanks, Santa Rosa County reporter for the Pensacola News Journal, participated in the Doggy Day Out program last week with Tigger, a “100% cute” Staffordshire terrier mix. She had so much fun, she’s taking him home for the holiday.
Last week I wrote a story about @SRCBOCC animal shelter’s new Doggy Day Out program, where you can take a pup out of the shelter for a day of fun. Naturally I had to try it out myself, in the name of #journalism. Enjoy this cheesy video montage of my Sunday Funday with Tigger! pic.twitter.com/mXaKE48Fnz
— Annie Blanks (@AnniePNJ) November 25, 2019
“I can’t donate a lot of money or adopt all of (the pets) I’d like, but I can donate a little bit of my time and a lot of my love and affection by bringing a shelter dog home for the holidays,” said Blanks. “It makes me happy to know I can make a small difference, and hopefully increase their chances of getting adopted.”