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Humane Society of Northeast Georgia surpasses foster animal challenge for Christmas
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Erica Sheppard, the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia's animal service director, welcomes Mollie the dog back on Monday, Dec. 27. - photo by Kelsey Podo

Everyone needs some down time, even homeless dogs. 

Through the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia’s Foster Express Challenge, 42 dogs were able to spend a slice of the holiday season in a home. 

The nonprofit participated in the program alongside 100 other animal shelters across the U.S. The challenge was to have 25 animals put into short-term foster homes during the holidays. Julie Edwards, executive director of the humane society, said the national organization, Maddie’s Fund, runs the program.

Since starting the challenge on Nov. 22, 15 dogs have been adopted.

In addition to the 42 dogs fostered for a couple of nights, Kathleen Garrand, the humane society’s foster coordinator, said 30 cats and dogs were put into long-term foster homes. 

“Right now this is the highest amount we’ve had from foster,” she said. 

Garrand compares shelter dog sleepovers to getting a weekend off work. 

When dogs come back to the humane society after staying in a home, Garrand said they return calmer than when they left. 

“You’re not going to go back to work on Monday with all the stress gone, but it makes it a little better,” Garrand said.

Starting in January 2020, the humane society plans to become a part of a national animal sleepover study.

The research will be conducted by Virginia Tech, Arizona State University and Maddie’s Fund. Garrand said the team will be studying how animals respond to time out of shelters by testing their levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. 

“We’ve found that most times their levels are lower after the sleepover for quite a while,” she said.

Those interested in fostering a dog or a cat can email Garrand at

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