Nobody should have to spend Thanksgiving alone, shelter pets included.

Meghan Overdeep
November 16, 2018
MikeBagley64/Getty Images

One Virginia animal shelter is going above and beyond to make sure none of their furry residents have to spend Thanksgiving alone.

The heartwarming program began four years ago, when Christie Chipps Peters, shelter director of Richmond Animal Care & Control, was preparing for the holiday. Peters told The Dodo that she couldn’t shake the thought of families and friends coming together over Thanksgiving feasts while the animals sat in their cages.

“I was feeling so sad about the dogs being alone in the shelter for Thanksgiving,”  Peters recalled. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if people could invite them over for Thanksgiving dinner?’”

That first year, after putting a call out to the community, 35 lucky shelter animals were able to spend Thanksgiving with a foster family.

“People who’ve never considered fostering before reached out to us, so excited to host one of our animals,” Peters told The Dodo. “More than half of the animals that year were adopted, either by the family themselves or someone who met them through the family.”

Best. Idea. Ever. Open up your heart and home for a shelter pet in need. Email christie.peters@richmondgov.com if you can help. Let's empty RACC for the holiday:) #weareyourcityshelter #thanksgivingfoster

Posted by Richmond Animal Care and Control on Tuesday, November 13, 2018

This year, the number of pets who received invites from local families has tripled.

“It’s a fun twist to a traditional fostering situation for people who might’ve never done it before,” Peters continued. “The shelter provides the supplies you need, such as food, medication and a crate, and the following Wednesday after Thanksgiving the pet comes back. But a lot of the times, the pets never have to come back to the shelter. We try to make it really easy for people to say yes and keep that pet forever.”

Making it easier still, the shelter waives the adoption fee for families who choose to adopt the pet they host.

WATCH: Scared Shelter Dogs Have Been Cuddling Since The Moment They Met

This year, the shelter will be pairing families with a pet from November 18 through November 21. Prospective fosters are interviewed to ensure the perfect match. Once they get the all clear, they can bring the animal home that day. Homes without pets are ideal.

People in the Richmond area looking to open their homes to a pet in need should email Peters at christie.peters@richmondgov.com.