Who needs room service when you can stay in a hotel that offers an adoptable shelter dog for company? That’s the idea behind a unique program at Home 2 Suites, an extended-stay hotel in Biloxi, Miss.
In a partnership with the Humane Society of South Mississippi, Home 2 Suites lets every dog has its day—or a month or a lifetime—with guests. As USA Today reports, the hotel has a large kennel in the lobby with specially chosen dogs in need of a home. Guests can opt to foster a dog for the length of their stay without making a commitment, but if they fall in love, they can fill out an application, pay a $50 fee at the concierge desk, and take it home furever.
Located on the Gulf Coast, Biloxi is home to the sprawling Keesler Air Force Base, while nearby Gulfport has the Naval Construction Battalion Center. That means the region attracts numerous visitors for lengthy stays for military-related business. Many of these transient guests “stay for months at a time … and that’s just enough time to fall in love with a dog,” said Bianca Janik of the Humane Society of South Mississippi, in the USA Today story.
The hotel’s sales director, Teresa Johnston, hit upon the idea to create a long-term foster program embedded in the facility. “Teresa thought they needed to set their hotel apart, and this was it,” Janik told USA Today. “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.”
Every dog has already been neutered or spayed, microchipped and gotten up to date on vaccinations and preventative heartworm medication. Not every dog in the shelter is a good candidate for the program, of course, and not everyone who applies to adopt a dog is allowed to do so, Janik told the paper. “We reserve the right to deny. (We) may tell them we don’t feel comfortable, come visit our shelter tomorrow, and we’ll find one that is right.”
But as of late November last year, 33 guests had adopted dogs through the program. All in all, the shelter takes in about 8,000 dogs a year and manages to adopt out nearly 80 percent of them.
Stray animals are a major problem in Mississippi and throughout the American South. According to Mississippi Today, the Animal Legal Defense Fund ranks Mississippi as the nation’s second-worst state for animals, second only to Kentucky, which actually prohibits veterinarians from reporting animal abuse.