With finals looming around the corner, students are looking forward to spring break, a sentiment shared by the dogs at Santa Barbara County Animal Services (SBCAS).
From March 25 to April 2, dogs cared for by SBCAS will have the opportunity to stay at a temporary community foster home. The foster homes will submit an online application process, and successful applicants will receive all materials needed to properly host their vacationing friend, donated by Lemos Pet Supply.
The program began in December 2015, with a pilot program called “Santa’s Slumber Party.” Its goal was to find foster homes that could host dogs for two to three days, giving dogs a family for the holidays and time away from the kennel.
“We had so much fun in December with our ‘Santa’s Slumber Party,’ and so many people have been asking when we are going to do this again,” Jeanne Saadi, community outreach coordinator for SBCAS, said. “We felt that spring break would be the perfect time to give our dogs another vacation from the shelter.”
According to Saadi, although SBCAS tries to do this type of program two to three times a year, they are always looking for permanent homes for the dogs.
“[We] are always actively seeking longer term foster homes, especially for dogs that need extra medical treatment, have been at the shelter for a long time or have some training opportunities that could be better addressed in a home,” Saadi said. “But we thought [the program] would be a good way to get people excited about doing that and maybe even foster some adoptions out of it.”
While in the care of a host family, the dogs are given the opportunity to take part in different activities, such as going on hikes, going to dog friendly restaurants or spending quality time with someone in a home environment. These types of activities give the shelter staff and volunteers valuable information and insight about how each dog acts in a home environment.
“The dogs get a change of scenery and a lot of personal attention, but they come back with more details and this allows us to set up the dogs for a more successful adoption,” Saadi said.
After the initial program in December, two dogs were adopted by their foster families, and a third dog was adopted by a family because of new information the previous foster family had provided.
Saadi said the process of becoming a foster parent for a dog begins with applying, followed by the shelter staff matching the parent “with a dog that will best fit their house.”
“If they have another dog, we want them to bring their dog to see which one of our dogs gets along with best because we do not want it to be stressful for anybody,” Saaid said. “If they have a smaller home, then we encourage them to take a smaller dog, so we just try to match them with whoever is going to get along best.”
Those interested in hosting a dog should contact Jeanne Saadi at the Santa Barbara Shelter at 805-681-4332 to host a dog seeking a vacation home.