(TMU) — Many people get bored and lonely when traveling, even when the hotels they’re staying in have a variety of amenities available. A hotel in Mississippi has come up with a unique idea to banish the blues from their guest’s visits, ultimately turning the hotel into more of a “home away from home” than a generic hotel.
Home2 Suites by Hilton Biloxi North/D’Iberville started a program called Fostering Hope in October 2018. The program brings shelter dogs from the Humane Society of South Mississippi to the hotel’s lobby which provide guests the opportunity to foster the animals in their rooms while staying at the hotel. Besides giving the guests and the dogs an opportunity to bond during their stay, the dogs can also be adopted at checkout.
Not only does this arrangement free up space at the shelter, it also gives more dogs the opportunity to be seen and to find new families. The shelter takes in about 8,000 dogs a year and has an adoption rate of about 80 percent. The hotel specializes in long term visits and many guests stay for months at a time, making it the ideal venue for this special project.
Teresa Johnston, the hotel’s sales director, is the mastermind behind the awesome idea.
“We’re an extended-stay Hilton branded property. We have a lot of extended-stay guests with Keesler Air Force Base, Ingalls Shipbuilding and other supporting industries. 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,” she explained.
“People love animals and we have many guest that decide to stay at the Home2 Suites by Hilton Biloxi North/D’Iberville because of this program.”
The hotel has one foster dog at a time. Guests can walk, feed, keep them overnight, and even take them out. Needless to say, with a long stay guest a strong bond is often formed with the foster animal. Guests who wish to adopt a dog from the program simply have to complete an application for adoption and pay the $50 fee at the hotel.
According to the Humane Society of South Mississippi, although the program is very open, they reserve the right to deny an adoption should they have any concerns. In that case, the interested guest may be invited to visit the shelter at another time to find pet that’s the right fit for them.
Thus far, over 60 dogs from the Fostering Hope program have been adopted by guests staying at the Home2 Suites hotel and even by hotel staff.
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“We keep doing what we’re doing, our families during the summer love the program and our servicemen and women love the program all year long,” Johnston said.
Johnson added that anyone can make this program happen. “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!”