Hospitality Industry Gives Dogs a “Last Resort”

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Oh, bellhop, can you help me with my — kibble?

Step into select hotels in Maine and California and you’ll be welcomed by a smiling attendant ready to serve — and possibly steal your heart.

Partnering with the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, the Inn by the Sea regularly “hires” shelter dogs as greeters. The goal: get these loving animals “promoted” to forever homes.

Rauni Kew, public relations manager for Inn by the Sea, told that the Inn fosters the dogs “until somebody falls in love” and adopts them.

“I can’t tell you how many guests have said to us, ‘There’s no way we would’ve gone to a shelter; we had decided we wouldn’t have another dog.' But they’ve fallen in love with the dog behind the desk,” Kew added. The Inn has been housing and caring for rescue dogs for four years.

The Inn gives guests ample chance for that interspecies match made in heaven. A special dog-friendly area is set aside so furry staff can dine with humans. There is also a gourmet dog menu. Singles or families can stroll the idyllic grounds with their furry concierge and get those vital, non-verbal tips on pet parenting. To date, 148 dogs of varied breeds and mixes have been adopted from the Inn. Adoptees include a blind dog and a bonded pair.

Out on the left coast, the Dog Samaritans Adoption Project links the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage with the non-profit group Animal Samaritans to make rescue wishes come true.

Before hitting the links, guests can mingle with four-legged friends at a dog house in the lobby. That game of fetch could be the perfect ice-breaker to more quality time and serious thoughts about leaving with a living, loving souvenir. The program gives the dogs an opportunity to build positive associations with people. Guests allergic to pet dander are referred to an adjoining sister property that does not allow pets.

Through this partnership, the Dog Samaritans Adoption Project has found forever homes for 137 dogs according to Raquel Wood, Westin Hills executive assistant to the general manager.

Each August, the resort hosts a reunion of adopted dogs featuring a “Yappy Hour” where pups savor peanut butter cookies while their humans sip dog-themed cocktails.

Similar programs in other states are catching on. Shadyside Inn All Suites Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, offers a unique incentive. Guests who stay five nights or more and adopt a rescue dog from the hotel can have adoption fees reduced up to $250. A foster dog program at the Aloft Asheville Downtown in North Carolina proved so popular that three other properties managed by McKibbon Hospitality have implemented programs as well. Ninety-five dogs have been adopted from Aloft Orlando (with an upcoming celebration planned for the 100th adoption); 56 from Aloft Tallahassee; 78 from Aloft Greenville; and 124 from the flagship program in Asheville.

Hotel management across these facilities report that many ex-“employees” have returned with their humans as guests. Per a Today poll, 86% of respondents would consider adopting a pet from a hotel.

Should you choose to lodge at any of the above establishments, the best tip you might give your furry “porter” is to take them home.