Steal This! What the Nation’s Largest Shelter Pet Foster Program Wants You to Know About Finding Fosters during COVID-19

By Nikki Reck

Nikki Reck | Rory Adams | April 1st, 2020

In 2019, Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) in Arizona, sent over 5,500 dogs and cats to foster homes. Their program, implemented in 2017 with support from Maddie’s Fund, is the nation’s largest shelter pet foster program. At the onset of COVID-19, PACC made its biggest ask ever. They wanted to sign up 1,000 new foster caregivers, with the goal of sending most shelter pets to foster homes. With help from, they got the word out and within just two weeks. PACC exceeded its goal and sent 800 animals to foster homes, with an additional 600 caregivers signed up to foster newly arriving pets. Their efforts during COVID-19 are just further evidence that all you have to do is ask for help and make it easy to participate. Your community wants to be the solution.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, foster care has become a vital program for countless communities working to maintain lifesaving, balance human safety, and practice social distancing.

If you want to know exactly how Pima got thousands of people mobilized quickly to foster pets, read below to see their marketing efforts. Please note, PACC wants you to ‘steal’ these ideas and make them your own. Because they work!

1. Send out news releases. 

PACC sent the following news releases out to local media and the fosters started rolling in.

  1. News release about how PACC Needs Fosters
  2. News release for Ways YOU Can Help

2. Get personal! 

Give your community daily COVID-19 updates on social media, let people know the latest news and your greatest needs.

    3. Create foster pleas that tell a story, be specific, be inviting, provide updates on animals, and celebrate your success!

    4. Keep fundraising!

    PACC is continuing to fundraise and ask for donations. While celebrating success, PACC is also telling the community about the work that needs community support to be sustained.

      5. Tell your community what else your shelter is doing to keep pets and people safe.

      6. Adoption and foster programs should go hand in hand. 

      Here are some example adoption pleas that ended in successful adoptions.

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