The Virtual Foster program at Austin Pets Alive! is a guide for volunteers that want to give the dogs in our population an opportunity to shine while they wait for their forever homes. The program focuses on the dogs who have been in shelter the longest, and pairs volunteers with those dogs in an effort to provide them with a clear, targeted approach to advocate for them.
When a shelter dog has a Virtual Foster, they are getting many of the benefits a foster home would offer, while still residing at the shelter. Our longer stay dogs often don’t show as well in their kennels, and having a champion to help them while they’re here, is invaluable. The program teaches the volunteers how to create vibrant, and compelling content for our website,marketing teams and other social media outlets. Advocates are informed about behavioral and medical histories, and work with the VF Coordinator to collaborate with our behavior team and clinic. In addition, the Virtual Fosters are a point of contact for potential adopters, and are able to offer context to their histories, and a perspective that only a best friend would be able to.
The Virtual Foster Program was originally run by volunteers, and their dedication to the dogs in our care, made it clear that there was the potential for it to have a much broader impact.
In less than two years, the program has grown by leaps and bounds. Our volunteers have become experts at advocacy, and have been essential to the care and attention the dogs need to succeed in life.
Currently, every dog over 50 days has at least one Virtual Foster, and often more than one!
Nearly every dog in the program has it’s own Instagram account.
Over 430 dogs have come through the program in less than 2 years and nearly all have found their way into their forever homes.