Traveling is passion, and it is great for the soul. Yet, it comes with its challenges, like everything else in life.
Traveling with your pet at your side can make things complicated, but traveling without a pet can get lonesome!
Therefore, a Mississippi hotel decided to solve this problem for their guests. Since October 2018, Home2 Suites by Hilton Biloxi North/D’Iberville has been operating a program called Fostering Hope.
They bring shelter dogs from the Humane Society of South Mississippi to the lobby, and guests can choose one to take it with them in the room while they are staying at the hotel.
After their vacation is over, they can adopt the pup if they want to. It’s a win-win-win situation, in fact.
As the shelter takes in around 8,000 dogs annually, the program frees up space, and thus helps more dogs. Moreover, these dogs comfort lonely travelers that are far from home, and the program has also strengthened the connection of the hotel to the community.
Teresa Johnston, the hotel’s sales director, got the idea of the program:
“The guests were missing something, I could see it. They were missing home, and they were missing animals. I thought, ‘why can’t we put the two together?'”
“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.
People love animals and we have many guests that decide to stay at the Home2 Suites by Hilton Biloxi North/D’Iberville because of this program.”
Bianca Janik, the shelter’s relations manager, added:
“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. 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.”
Guests who are willing to take a dog, are required to fill out an application and pay the $50 adoption fee at the hotel.
According to The Humane Society of South Mississippi, the program is open, but they can still deny an adoption. In this case, they may invite people to visit their shelter and find the right pet for them.
So far, at least 33 dogs have found their permanent homes with the help of the program.
At the time of adoption, all dogs have undergone updated medical evaluations and procedures, including spay/neutering, vaccinations, microchip, and preventative heartworm medication.
The heart-warming program has brought the hotel a lot of attention from the media, residents and even Hilton’s corporate headquarters.
“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.”
She even encouraged other properties to try the program:
“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!”