Let’s start this off with a quick fact: 67% of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet, according to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA).
Now, with this high rate of pet ownership, people who travel would opt for hotels that alow your pet to stay in with you. After all, according to the US Travel Association, $1,036 billion were spent on traveling in 2017, with about 36% of travelers rating travel as an important spending priority (Phocuswright).
But while some people might have their own pets, the remaining 33% of people who don’t own any pets, can get a bit lonely while they travel. Maybe the hotel might have a TV with a long list of channels, and a mini-bar, but with no living being around, it can get very boring.
A hotel in Mississipi has found the perfect way to warm their guests’ lonesome hearts — give them a pet companionship during their stay.
Home2 Suites by Hilton Biloxi North/D’Iberville has been operating a program called Fostering Hope since October 2018. Ever since then, the program brings shelter dogs from the Humane Society of South Mississippi to the hotel’s lobby and offers guests the chance to foster the adorable pets in their rooms while they’re staying at the facility. And if the dog and the guest happen to become best friends, the guest can adopt the puppy.
This frees up space at the shelter — which takes in about 8,000 dogs a year and adopts out close to 80% of them. With that being said and done, more furry friends can get the help they need and increases the chances for them to get noticed and find a family. And since the hotel specializes in long-term visits (many guests book a room for months at a time), it’s the perfect venue for such an initiative.
“They have a lot of transient guests who stay for months at a time near our army and navy bases and that’s just enough time to fall in love with a dog,” Bianca Janik, the shelter’s relations manager, told USA TODAY.
The brilliant program was the idea of Teresa Johnston, the hotel’s sales director. After Janik researched the hotel, she decided it was an “ideal set-up” for an extended foster program.
“Teresa thought they needed to set their hotel apart and this was it. She wanted to have the business more involved with the community. It was a very out-of-the-box way to find our animals’ new homes so we were on board,” Janik explained.
If guests wish to take home a dog from the program, all they have to do is fill out an application and pay the $50 adoption fee at the hotel.
“We have a very open adoption program,” Janik said. “People are trying to do the right thing by adopting. We reserve the right to deny. (We) may tell them we don’t feel comfortable, come visit our shelter tomorrow and we’ll find one that is right.”
So far, at least 33 guests have gone home with one of the Home 2 Suites “Fostering Hope” dogs.