Animal shelters using social media to help adopt endangered pets
Susan Kim, Stephanie Graham
It's hard to believe a friendly yellow lab named Splash was once on death row in an animal shelter. With the clock ticking, the rescue group 'Lucky Lab' posted his picture on its Facebook site in hopes of finding him a home ASAP. Peter Christmas and Janet Belsky fell in love with the lab from 1,000 miles away.
"He was an older dog that's hard to adopt and we kinda figured that he was not going to have a very good shot at getting adopted," Janet says.
Janet soon typed this response on the Facebook post: "With a name like splash he belongs here on the lake. We would love to take him."
He's not the only one. Lucky Lab Rescue's founder, Katherine Martin, says social media helped save the dogs and hundreds of others.
"Dogs who have just a matter of minutes to survive are able to get pulled from these shelters," Martin says.
These life-saving campaigns aren't only going to the dogs. The number of shelters and pet rescue groups using social media to spread the word is exploding--saving cats, horses, even cows, piglets, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets.
Patrick O'Malley is a social media expert. He explains, "We took a look at a specific group on Twitter called the 'Animal League' and we could track it and the number of followers they had on Twitter increased 30% just in the last three months."
Sometimes the posts are dire, with actual expiration dates listing the date and time a pet has to be adopted by or the animal will be euthanized.
Social media is also helping save pets with special needs, like a three-legged dog, named Cookie.
Donations for her medical care came pouring in, and someone living hundreds of miles away from the pooch saw a post and adopted cookie moments before she was going to be put to sleep.
Rescue groups are also using Facebook and Twitter to arrange transport for adopted pets to their 'furever homes', by organizing transportation through volunteers or donated frequent flier miles.
As for Splash, Peter says, "The dogs tend to know they've been rescued also. They know they've been saved and they're forever grateful to you."
The Humane Society of the United States and the american society for the prevention of cruelty to animals tells us they urge shelters to advertise pets on social media before putting them to sleep.
And that while pets may not be able to talk--they're definitely finding their voices online.