Home2Suites by Hilton in D’Iberville, Mississippi is often a home away from home for the area’s military personnel and other travelers. They offer long-term stays near the Mississippi coast along with sought-after amenities like in-suite kitchens and free breakfast.
Out of all those hotel perks, Director of Sales Teresa Johnston wanted to offer guests something truly special. That’s why she started Fostering Hope, a program designed to turn the hotel into a foster home for shelter dogs.
Johnston told Insider,
“They 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?”
To make her idea possible, Johnston partnered with the Humane Society of South Mississippi in 2018. For almost two years, the hotel has taken in one dog at a time. The lucky pup hangs out in the hotel lobby where guests have a chance to make their introductions. If a guest is interested, they can foster the dog in their room. They feed their hotel foster pup, go on walks, and, most importantly, dole out lots of love.
Foster dogs spend time interacting with guests and relaxing in the hotel lobby.
If all goes well, guests also have the opportunity to make the relationship official. So far, Home2Suites has adopted out more than 60 local shelter dogs. Many of those dogs have gone home with guests, and hotel employees have also participated in the program.
Even if a guest doesn’t adopt the dog, the Fostering Hope program benefits everyone involved. Dogs who would otherwise be forced to stay in a shelter kennel get to lounge on comfy hotel beds and spend time with people. They learn basic skills and take time to decompress.
Lil' Joe was our 6th foster dog and was classed as a Chinese Shar Pei mix. He was adopted by Chelsea on Nov. 30, 2018 and has grown into a sweet and loving pal.
And while that one dog is at the hotel, the shelter has extra room they can use to rescue another life. It’s a mutually beneficial program that has been a huge hit with everyone at the hotel. Guests are thrilled to spend their time away from home with a dog in need, and employees love seeing every new dog fall in love with the perfect new person.
The program’s success has attracted a lot of media attention, and animal advocates hope the idea will spread to other hotels.
Click here to read about a high school senior’s innovative training program to help rescue dogs.