by Jennifer Cohen
Aloft Asheville Downtown hotel employee Emma Ledbetter was on a flight to Asheville, North Carolina. She happened to be seated next to a board member of (CAAR).
The two passengers started chatting and after learning about CAAR, Emma proposed the idea of having Aloft create a way to foster shelter dogs at the hotel to help the volunteer-run animal rescue organization get more dogs adopted.
That conversation created a partnership between the hotel and the rescue, and the first foster dog from Charlie’s Angels arrived at Aloft in August 2014. Since the program’s inception (and the date of this interview), 72 dogs have been adopted.
How It Works
The program is pretty simple. According to Lauren Bowels, director of communications for McKibbon Hospitality, the staff from Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue selects the dog for the hotel. Smaller dogs are usually selected due to the size of the lobby. The chosen dog is monitored at the shelter for two weeks before moving into the hotel to make sure his or her temperament is suitable for the new environment. The dog must be good with people and other dogs since many travelers bring their own furry friends.
Then, the dog-in-waiting moves into Aloft and wearing a special “adopt me” vest, he or she hangs out in the hotel lobby, usually near the registration desk. Hotel guests are invited to walk the dog on the hotel’s rooftop puppy path, though the hotel staffers are responsible for feeding the dog and making sure he or she is walked each day, without relying on hotel guests. The dog may also accompany hotel guests to the hotel bar and restaurant as long as he or she is on a leash. (The dog, not the guest.)
The hotel does not permit the dog to sleep in guests’ rooms, but there is a very comfortable bed for the foster dog in the hotel office.
The Adoption Process
When a hotel guest is interested in adopting the dog, they are required to fill out an application with Charlie’s Angels. The rescue staff then interviews the potential new family. If the family is local, Charlie’s Angels will conduct a home check. If the family is from out of state, CAAR will work with another animal rescue group or shelter in that family’s area to do a home check and report back to CAAR. If the family has previously had pets, CAAR will also speak with their veterinarian to ensure the family will properly care for the dog. If more than one hotel guest is interested in the same dog, they both apply and CAAR will select the family who is best suited to adopt that particular dog.
The Zipp family of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, adopted a dog named Max via Charlie’s Angels’ hotel program. Arlene Zipp saw him in the lobby and fell in love with him immediately. “He completed our furry portion of our family,” says Arlene.
John McKibbon, chairman of the McKibbon Hotel Group says of the partnership, “We are uniting families with new best friends.”
USA Today voted the number one hotel in the Best Pet Friendly Hotel category.
Aloft usually has one dog in residence at a time, however, there have been a few times when a bonded pair of dogs needed to be adopted together and both dogs have been able to crash at the hotel together. Most foster dogs reside in the hotel for about two weeks before they are adopted.
If an adoption is made and the family later feels the dog is not a good fit, CAAR requires that the family bring the dog back to them, even if they live out of state.
A Pet-Friendly Hotel
Aloft Hotels are all pet-friendly and feature amenities specifically for guests who bring their own dogs. Every visitor with a pet receives an Aloft dog bed, food and water bowls, and locally baked dog treats. The hotel also has an outdoor area covered with turf grass for guests to walk their dogs.
“The foster dog program has been truly amazing. Guests often tell us how wonderful it is to see a rescue dog in our lobby who they can share their love with,” says Aloft Asheville general manager David McCartney. “It is really rewarding knowing how much our team enjoys caring for the dogs and knowing they are proud to work in this hotel that supports the foster program.”
The dogs are networked on the hotel’s Facebook page. Here is Bianca, the foster dog who was awaited adoption at the hotel over Thanksgiving.
From the Aloft Asheville Facebook page:
Even the hotel’s staff members love the adoption program.
“The foster dog program is icing on the cake for working here at the Aloft Asheville,” says Jennifer Reese, Aloft Asheville sales manager. “To be able to take a break and go out to the lobby the see the fur kid always makes the day special.”
The program has been well received by hotel visitors, too. The hotel reports that there have never been any complaints about accidents, allergies, or dogfights.
In fact, the adoption program has been so successful that it was recently expanded to the new Aloft Greenville Downtown in Greenville, South Carolina, where more than 20 dogs have found their forever homes to date.
About Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue
Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue was founded in early 2009 with the goal of rescuing animals from the high-kill animal shelter in Transylvania County, North Carolina. What began as a small group has evolved into one of the leading animal rescue groups in western North Carolina. Charlie’s Angels now rescues animals in counties throughout Western North Carolina and in Upstate South Carolina.
In 2012 Charlie’s Angels expanded its scope of services and opened its own shelter in Henderson County, North Carolina. The organization remains dedicated to rescuing homeless, abandoned, and often neglected animals from area shelters and helping them find their “furever” homes through local adoptions or through transportation to one of the many rescue groups the organization works with in Northern states.
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