A Mississippi hotel lets guests foster dogs during their stay and now more than 60 have found forever homes.

© Home2 Suites by Hilton Biloxi North/D'Iberville

By Haven Orecchio-Egresitz, INSIDER

  • Home2 Suites by Hilton in Biloxi North launched "Fostering Hope" in 2018.
  • The program allows guests to care for the hotel's foster dog during their stay.
  • Guests can then chose to adopt the dog right from the hotel.
  • More than 60 dogs have found their forever homes through the program.

Teresa Johnston, Director of Sales at Home2 Suites by Hilton in D'Iberville, Mississippi, noticed that despite all of the amenities available for long term guests something was missing to make guests truly feel at home: pets.

That's when she had the idea to partner with the local humane society to turn the hotel into a foster home for homeless dogs.

Through the program, "Fostering Hope," the hotel takes one foster dog in at a time and allows guests to walk, feed, and babysit the pup during their stay.

If the guest - and, in some cases, the hotel employee - strikes up a special bond, they can adopt the dog right from the hotel. Then the hotel will take in another.

"They were missing something, I could see it, '' Johnston told Insider about her guests. "They were missing home and they were missing animals. I thought, 'why can't we put the two together?'" 

© Home2 Suites by Hilton Biloxi North/D'Iberville.

More than 60 dogs have found their forever homes since the program launched about a year ago.

Vincent Nargot, who works at the front desk at Home2 Suites told Insider he met his sixth dog, Chico the chihuahua, through the program.

Nargot said the day Johnston picked up Chico from the humane society, she immediately called him.

"She said 'you better have your $50 ready,'" Nargot recalled, referring to the adoption fee. "She walks in with the dog, she made it two feet in the hotel and I was like, 'Yep that's mine.'"

Three other staffers have also fallen for the hotel's foster pups and ended up taking them home, Johnston said. 

© Home2 Suites by Hilton Biloxi North/D'Iberville

The presence of a dog in the hotel, which is a Hilton property, also makes for a fun work environment. Nargot said there have been so many funny stories involving their canine guests that he can't count. 

One time, Nargot opened the crate to let a new dog out into a playpen in the lobby and the dog took off, running right out of the front door.

Then a female colleague called the dog's name and he immediately turned around and returned to the play area, Nargot said.

"The minute he heard her voice, he turned around," Nargot said.

It's how he realized that particular dog wasn't too comfortable around men.

Johnston said that sometimes the dogs do come "with baggage," like separation anxiety, and there's no way to know until they arrive at the hotel.

In those cases, it's great to have guests who are ready to jump in and help make the dog feel comfortable.

The hotel is an extended stay and many of the military guests have stepped up when a dog needed extra attention, she said.

"My hotel guests keep them overnight, babysit them," she said. "They even take them to go to the bathroom."

"Fostering Hope" has brought the hotel a lot of attention from the media, local residents and even Hilton's corporate headquarters.

She hopes that the program extends to other properties. Home2Suites properties are pet-friendly. 
"I wanted to do something non-traditional. I'm so out of the box," she said. "Just because you cut the end of the ham off doesn't mean you always have to cut the end of the ham off."

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A Mississippi hotel lets guests foster dogs during their stay and now more than 60 have found forever homes.
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