Middleburg Humane Foundation: Petfinder Adoption Options in Action Grant (Invitation Only)

What was the money or product used for?

Middleburg Humane Foundation (MHF) would like to thank the Petfinder Foundation for awarding us the Adoption Options in Action grant. We used the grant money to purchase supplies to assemble “sleepover kits”: collars and harnesses in multiple sizes, leashes, dog bowls, dog food, Nylabone chew toys, dog beds, and large crates. We also purchased heavy-duty duffel bags to put all these items in (except the crates) to keep everything in one place. We thought that people might be more inclined to foster our dogs if they do not have to purchase anything to facilitate the visit.

We used part of the money to purchase a pet stroller. The reasoning was two-fold: first, people fostering smaller dogs may borrow the stroller to increase the range of activities they could do with their foster. Second, the stroller allows MHF to bring smaller dogs to meet-and-greet events. We do not typically take smaller dogs to off-site events because the noise, activity level, etc., might prove overly stimulating to them. The option to put them in the stroller, somewhat removed from the stimuli, makes us more confident that an event would not overly stress out our dogs.

The last photo, of a dog named Gibbs, is one example of MHF using the stroller to promote adoptions. We brought Gibbs to a meet-and-greet event at a brewery and kept him in the stroller until he acclimated to the venue and people. By the end of the event, he was passed from person to person and having a great time. Shortly after the event, Gibbs was taken into foster care.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

We had wanted to start a “Doggie Pajama Party” and short-term foster program to complement our long-term foster program, but did not know where to start. The Adoptions Options conference gave our Adoptions Counselor ideas not only about how we can develop these two programs, but also how we can utilize them to benefit our animals who have been harder to place.

The receipt of the Petfinder Foundation Adoption Options in Action grant money coincided with the Maddie’s Fund Foster Express Challenge. We were initially skeptical about whether we could get 25 of our animals into short-term foster care, but we felt we had a better chance of success if we could offer potential fosters a sleepover kit. We also devised a media strategy to build enthusiasm about our new Doggie Pajama Party and tie it in to our participation in the Foster Express Challenge. The sixth photo shows two of these Facebook posts.

How many pets did this grant help?

This grant directly helped the five dogs who had sleepovers since we received the supplies for the sleepover kits in mid-November. Our grant request noted that six of our dogs have been with us for longer than three months. Three of the six were adopted before we purchased our sleepover kits, but two of the remaining three (Elle and Jax) have gone on doggie sleepovers. Elle’s “sleepover buddy” has indicated that she is considering adopting Elle, and Jax’s foster asked to foster him for an extended period with the intent to adopt. Further, this grant was the impetus to us commencing our sleepover and short-term foster programs and participating in the Foster Express Challenge over the holidays. The grant therefore indirectly benefited the animals who went into short-term foster between November 22 and January 10. We will continue to operate these programs and countless more animals will also benefit from the grant.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Dan (first four photos) is one of 59 dogs who were removed from a home in Montgomery County, Maryland, as part of an investigation that resulted in an animal-cruelty case being brought forward. Once the case concluded, the shelter in Montgomery County was able to adopt out or transfer the seized dogs, and MHF took in Dan and four other dogs. Dan has a partially formed paw (a congenital defect) that makes it difficult for him to walk.

Our entire board was excited about MHF’s receipt of the Petfinder Foundation grant, and the Chairman of the Board asked to take Dan for a sleepover to help kick off the sleepover program. Our Chairman took an immediate liking to Dan and wanted to do something to help him with his paw. He made an appointment for Dan’s hips to be x-rayed and scheduled him to be evaluated for a prosthetic. Shortly after his evaluation, Dan went into short-term foster for the holidays.

We received two calls on Jan. 2: First, Dan’s foster family asked if they could extend their foster period. Second, Dan’s prosthetic foot was ready for him to try out. The fosters insisted on accompanying MHF staff to Dan’s fitting (which we interpret as possible intention to adopt). Dan took to his new foot almost immediately and at one point started to run, causing everyone to run after him. We have attached a couple before and after pictures of Dan, and have a video of him testing out his new leg we can send via email.

Dan getting a new foot and possibly a new home is a wonderful way for Dan, and MHF, to start the new year. We are grateful for the Petfinder Foundation Adoption Options in Action grant as it was the start of this story that ends in “happily ever after,” and will allow us to provide many more “happily ever afters” this year. Thank you.

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