A Tennessee shelter is determined to give their animals a memorable Thanksgiving by sending them home for the holidays.
This year, Hawkins County Humane Society in Rogersville is allowing families to host a cat or dog with the option to adopt.
"A lot of our animals that come to the shelter have never been in a loving home," said Julie Baker, HCHS' assistant manager. "We wanted to give all of the dogs and some of the cats an experience of what a family is like, what a home is like and what that attention is like."
This is the first year that HCHS is featuring the "Home for the Holidays" program.
The shelter currently houses 60 dogs and 80 cats. Families are interviewed and collaborate with staff to find out which animal is suitable for temporary placement over Thanksgiving weekend.
The shelter advertised for the event on Facebook and has already sent 15 dogs to homes in the area.
"If a family comes in that's going to have a big dinner at their house and small children, we know dogs that would fit in very nicely -- young and playful," Baker said. "Spot, a 9-month-old beagle-lab mix, he'll wear out the kids while mom is cooking a Thanksgiving feast."
For a couple dining alone for the holiday, Baker recommends an older dog like Mr. Grumpy, an 8-year-old schnauzer. And for a non-traditional Thanksgiving like a young couple going camping or hiking, Grainer, a 2-year-old Great Dane-lab mix is the perfect companion.
Out of the 80 cats, Baker said there are five who are outgoing enough to participate in "Home for the Holidays." The goal is to have all 65 animals placed with families during Thanksgiving.
Ultimately, shelter staff hopes to get all 65 animals adopted.
"It's not just going home for the holidays, it's rehabilitation," Baker said. "These dogs can learn what the no-nos are, what's expected. We really don't want them alone for the holidays. What we really hope for is that the families fall in love with the dog [or cat] and end up adopting."
HCHS will send food with each dog or cat that's placed in a home. If the family chooses not to keep the pet indefinitely, they may bring them home to the shelter without paying a fee.