(Toledo News Now) - Three to four million dogs and cats are put to sleep in animal shelters across the United States each year. But imagine if you could save some or even adopt one with just a couple clicks of a mouse?
Sound crazy? We found the number of shelters and rescue groups using social media to spread the word about pets in need is growing – and the number of people responding is astonishing. It's hard to believe this tail-wagging yellow lab named "Splash" was once on death row in an animal shelter.
With the clock ticking, the rescue group "Lucky Lab Rescue" posted his picture on its Facebook page in hopes of finding him a home.
One thousand miles away, Peter Christmas and Jane Belsky fell in love with this lab. Janet says, "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 being adopted." Janet responded quickly to the Facebook post, commenting, "With a name like Splash he belongs here on the lake. We would love to take him."
And he's not the only one. The founder of Lucky Lab Rescue, Katherine Martin, says social media helped save these dogs and hundreds of others. "Dogs who have just a matter of minutes to survive are able to get pulled from these shelters," says Martin.
Locally, the Toledo Area Humane Society is very active on Facebook, posting several times a day about dogs and cats who need to be adopted… or showing off proud parents and puppies who've just found new life-long companions. On July 16th, the TAHS posted about a mutt named "Justice" who'd been at the shelter for months waiting for someone to come find him. And then, just a day later, they posted that Justice had found a forever home because of that Facebook post!
And these life-saving campaigns aren't only going to the dogs… We found the number of shelters and pet rescue groups using social media is exploding, saving cats, horses, even cows, piglets, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, and more.
Patrick O'Malley, a social media analyst, says, "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 percent 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. Donations for one three-legged dog named "Cookie" came pouring in once she became a social media post… and someone living hundreds of miles away decided to adopt her before she was put to sleep.
"Social media and Facebook inn general has helped us raise a lot of money," says Martin, "for dogs we ordinarily wouldn't have the funds to help."
Rescue groups are using Facebook and Twitter to arrange transport for adopted pets to their "Fur-ever homes" by organizing transportation through volunteers or donated frequent-flier miles.
As for Splash, his happy tail took him across the country to his happily ever after with Janet and Peter. "I'm so glad we did this. We just love this dog."
"The dogs tend to know they've been rescued also," adds Peter. "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.