The Aloft Hotel in downtown Asheville is beginning its third year in partnership with Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue to create a dog adoption program in its lobby.
In August of 2014, Aloft began the program which was originally designed to last three months as one of its rotational community service projects.
“We thought that we would have two, maybe three dogs in three months,” said David McCartney, who is the general manager of the hotel.” The first dog got adopted in two days. They gave us another dog, it got adopted in two or three days, so they gave us another dog and it got adopted right away. In the first three months, we were probably adopting one dog a week.”
The hotel’s partner, Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue, is located on Hendersonville Road near Smiley’s Flea Market. Before 2014, the staff at Aloft had been talking about hosting a dog adoption program, but didn’t know who to partner with. However, one flight to Florida changed all of that.
McCartney said that one of the hotel managers was flying for vacation and sat next to one of the board of directors for Charlie’s Angels. They started a conversation about the idea.
“Coincidentally, they both returned to Asheville on the same flight and ended up sitting next to each other again. So it was fate,” he said.
Before the staff fosters a new addition, Charlie’s Angels holds a three-day observation of the dog to make sure that it won’t be scared in public and that it’s good around children and families. Once the dog arrives at the hotel, the Aloft staff take their own precautions as well.
“We keep it in the office area, where its sleeping kennel is, for 12-24 hours so that we can observe and so that the dog can get used to its new environment,” said McCartney, “We make sure that we are the right place for the dog.”
At the hotel, guests are welcome to get to know the dog by sitting or holding it in the lobby, while remaining in the view of a staff member.
“You really can’t get to know the dogs [at a short-term dog adoption program]. But guests who stay here for two or three nights, I see them coming and sitting with the dogs in the mornings and evenings. They really get to know the dog and the dog gets to know them,” McCartney said.
Guests who become interested in adopting a dog from Aloft have to follow normal procedures through Charlie’s Angels, including a home inspection and veterinary reference check to make sure that the dog and family are a good match.Additionally, all adoptions from the agency require an adoption fee of $150.
McCarthy believes the adoption program has had a positive effect on the hotel, indicating that many guests will see the dog on arrival and be drawn to it before checking in.
“They just park their suitcase, they walk over to the dog, and they pet it and pick it up, and then they go ‘Oh, I better check in’,” McCartney said.
McCartney said that the program has led to an increase in guests staying at the hotel, and an increase in outside people coming to spend time at the hotel.
“There is not a week that goes by that we don’t get two or three people that aren’t even staying here, but are visiting Asheville, and they come by to see us. And then we get at least two or three people that tell us the reason they’ve selected our hotel was because they heard about the program” he said.
Hundreds of guests come in without the intent of adopting the dog, but they still sit around and play with them for fun.
“I’ve met people that tell me they wish they could adopt the dog, but they already have one, two, or three rescue dogs,” said McCartney, “but they still come play with them, sit with them, and take selfies with them.”
Along with the dog adoption program, the Aloft hotel allows guests’ pets to stay for free. The hotel offers options such as a dog bed, food and water bowls, and a goodie bag with a locally baked treat for the four-legged guests.
The program has placed 73 adoptions in the last two years.
Along with Charlie’s Angel’s, the Aloft Hotel has also supported other animal shelters including the Asheville Humane Society and Brother Wolf.