Build Short Term Foster Programs to Reduce Kennel Stress and Increase Adoptions: Staycations and Daycations

Build Short Term Foster Programs to Reduce Kennel Stress and Increase Adoptions: Staycations and Daycations
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-04-08
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Build Short Term Foster Programs
Unit 2 Transcript: Build Short Term Foster Programs
Unit 3 Workbook: Build Short Term Foster Programs
Unit 4 Recording: Build Short Term Foster Programs

Public safety agencies are inundated with so much work and responsibilities that any initiative that can alleviate the workload and the accompanying stress and pressure is worth a try. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control implemented a program that aimed to reduce kennel stress while increasing the visibility of adoptable dogs in the community.

This session’s speaker is Shannon Harkey who’s been with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control for more than 20 years. She’s served in various capacities and is currently its Customer Service/Community Outreach Manager.

Shannon will dissect their Short-Term Foster Program and its success thus far. The discussion includes:

  • An overview of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care Control and the work that the agency does.
  • The issues that the shelter had been facing with:
    • Less-than-ideal shelter layout that creates stress among the dogs.
    • Dogs that are staying for an extended amount of time and not being adopted.
    • Lack of volunteers during weekdays to spend time with the dogs for enrichment activities.
  • Details on the two short-term foster programs they implemented.
    • The Staycation program that allowed people to bring home a dog for a maximum of 5 days.
    • The Daycation program that allowed community members to spend a couple of hours with a dog.
  • Statistics that demonstrated the success of both the Staycation and Daycation program as seen in:
    • The total number of dogs taken for Staycations and Daycations.
    • Staycations that resulted in adoption or longer-term fostering.
    • Valuable information collected to better understand the dogs’ behavior.
  • A run-through of how an individual can take part in the Staycation and Daycation programs.
  • Reviewing the paperwork and documents essential to the program.
    • The Staycation Liability Waiver that laid out the protections and liability between involved parties.
    • The Behavior Report Card that was used to gather insights on the dog’s behavior which are useful when trying to match the dogs with potential adopters.
    • The Dog Introduction Sheet that provided guidelines for the shelter dogs during the Staycation and Daycation particularly when interacting with other dogs.
  • The resources that the shelter provides its customers to set them up for successful interaction and the sources of the funding for these.
  • A look into the manpower, workload, and attention to detail required to carry out this program appropriately.
  • The perks in terms of free organic marketing from the people and businesses that are doing the Staycations and Daycations.
  • The program’s life-saving capability by keeping dogs off the shelters and avoiding euthanasia due to behavior issues.
  • Lessons learned on unnecessary barriers to community engagement in terms of screening and logistical issues.
  • Recognizing the concerns that they had prior and how they overcame these through optimism, trust, and just wanting the best for the dogs.
  • Dro’s success story that proved how dogs that are considered difficult may just be stressed by conditions in the shelter and are actually lovely when in a home environment.

Questions from the webinar attendees were about:

  • Animals that are on cruelty hold.
  • Managing liabilities and costs of injuries during the Staycation and Daycation.
  • Metrics that show how the program shortened the time to adoption.
  • People’s conscientiousness with the timelines and the system used to track the timeline.
  • Requirements to long-term foster or adopt dogs via the short-term foster programs.
  • Geographical limits of the program.
  • Extending the program to other species of animals.
  • Scheduling for Staycations and Daycations.
  • Missed out adoption opportunities while dogs are on Staycations.


Other Webinars in this Series Include:


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • The beginning of the program from start to finish was top notch. I appreciated the documents that were provided to attendee’s for what was approved by a CAO’s office. I appreciated the candor in the lesson’s learned, the successes gained, the data shown, and working through hurdles. — Brittany
  • The handouts were great, lots of information. I really like the idea of being an “open” adoption shelter. I think the idea of staycations/daycations is great. Thank you for this great session!  — Jennifer
  • Shannon is a fantastic speaker and brings a wealth of experience from a variety of perspectives in animal welfare. Her no-nonsense approach and openness to trying new things is amazing. Charlotte-Mecklenburg is lucky to have her, and I would love to hear more from her. — Josh
  • It was really encouraging to see the number of dogs euthanized drop over the years due to daycations/staycations. It gave me a lot of hope that if we start implementing these programs that we’ll see a decrease in euthanasians, which is one of our goals here at the shelter. I actually took a screenshot of the staycation “postcard” and plan to introduce it to our foster program. I feel that it could be very beneficial for our adoption coordinator and benefit our staff as well. — Emily



View our Animal Welfare Webinar  Schedule and Recordings



This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.




This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.





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