In 2018, Austin Pets Alive! received PEDIGREE Foundation’s first $100,000 DOGS RULE.™ grant, a new grant created to help a shelter or rescue develop an innovative initiative that could become a best practice model for organizations across the country.
APA! received the grant over two years – $50,000 in 2018 and $50,000 in 2019 – and used the funds to develop and support its Virtual Foster Program. It’s a volunteer initiative that pairs dedicated volunteers with dogs who have been at the shelter for the longest, to help them get adopted. Since the program began, APA! says over 430 dogs have come through the program and nearly all have found their way into their forever homes.
As APA! explains, “When a shelter dog has a Virtual Foster, they receive many of the benefits a foster home would offer, while the dog still resides at the shelter. Virtual Fosters become experts at advocating for their assigned dog and provide essential care and attention to help their dogs thrive. Longer stay dogs often do not show as well in their kennels and Virtual Fosters champion their assigned dog(s) best qualities.”
Having fully developed and implemented its Virtual Foster program, APA! created a handbook to show other organizations how to implement their own program. It includes:
- How to choose Virtual Foster volunteers
- How to get volunteers onboarded
- Tips for marketing adoptable dogs on social media
- Guidelines for Virtual Fosters to communicate with potential adopters
- Tips for how to track the impact of the program
We’re so thrilled we could support this excellent work by APA! and help make their handbook available to shelters and rescues across the country. You can download a copy below.