Operation Kindness, the largest no-kill animal shelter in North Texas, is launching a new Foster Ambassador Program to help increase adoptions.
Foster Programs 101
If you’re not familiar with how foster programs work, it’s pretty simple: animal rescue groups look for homes where homeless dogs and cats can live until they are adopted. The rescue group picks up the expenses – from basic supplies to medical care – and all the foster parents need to supply is a safe and loving home for the pet.
(Of course, in some cases, pets need special care – whether it’s a senior pet that needs daily medication, or a timid dog who needs an extra-patient family who is okay with the idea of “personal space,” or even a high-energy puppy who needs to go to training classes.)
In addition to providing a loving home, most rescue groups ask that Foster Parents take an active role in helping their foster pet to get adopted. Usually, that means attending adoption events and taking pictures and video of your foster pet to post to social media.
Talent Agents: Helping homeless pets get discovered
Operation Kindness, with the help of Maryland-based Self Directed Volunteers Network, has taken the traditional foster program model to a new level. Using a “team approach” to fostering, Operation Kindness Foster Parents can become “Talent Agents” for their foster pets, taking them to high-traffic, pet-friendly locations where they are more likely to be “discovered” by their future forever homes.
Research shows that pets in this type of program get adopted within three weeks (three weeks!) and that their return rate is less than 3%. Those are some impressive statistics, given that many rescue groups have dogs in their foster programs for months, and sometimes, even years.
Talent Agents will work in teams of 10 to 12 foster families, with a Team Facilitator to help guide their efforts. Talent Agents will receive the same support as regular foster parents, including Foster Orientation and a Training Manual complete with Frequently Asked Questions, marketing tips, and contact information. In addition, Talent Agents will have the opportunity to work with their teams to organize Meetups, Yappy Hours, and play dates where they can show off their “clients.”
You’ll be able to spot Talent Agents and their foster pets, too. Just look for dogs in shirts that say “Single and Looking,” accompanied by humans in shirts that say “Wingman.” (This has to be one of the best perks of becoming a Talent Agent.)
How you can help
Operation Kindness is seeking Talent Agents! If you’ve wanted to try fostering but needed to have a support group in case you needed help, here’s your chance!
Is the Talent Agent life a good fit for you?
While there is a foster dog for almost any type of lifestyle, there are a few characteristics that are helpful to be an effective Talent Agent:
- Available for social outings each week. Talent Agents are asked to take their dogs out on the town where they’ll be seen by a wide variety of people.
- Comfortable talking about your foster pet. You don’t have to walk up to strangers and start a conversation, but you should be comfortable with answering questions about your foster pet when people ask about him/her.
- Active on social media. Part of a Talent Agent’s job is getting the word out about their foster pet. Posting photos on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter of your pet in social situations is a great way to reach a large audience.
Talent Agent life not for you? You can still help!
If you don’t think you’ll have the time to commit to being a Talent Agent but still want to be involved in the Foster Ambassador Program, consider being an “assistant” to a Talent Agent. You can help out by taking a dog to a park or pet-friendly patio, even if the foster dog doesn’t live with you.
For those who prefer to stay close to home, there are still plenty of dogs and cats at Operation Kindness who need you! Many of these pets would love to hang out at home, watching movies and going for walks around the block.
For more information
Operation Kindness currently has approximately 4500 dogs and cats that are looking for forever homes. Over 150 of these are in foster homes, but the remaining 300 are in the shelter.
While the pets in the shelter get lots of attention from loving volunteers and staff, Operation Kindness is always looking to move animals from the shelter into foster homes. This way, they can free up space in the shelter so they can save even more homeless animals.
To learn more about becoming a Talent Agent, please contact Stephani Coe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-240-5739.
And, although this blog is about dogs, I had to include this picture. Because kittens.