2010-09-22 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Move over, Petfinder. You [Petfinder] are still the greatest online entity when it comes to increasing adoptions. Just leave some wiggle room for Facebook which is rapidly becoming a friend to man’s best friend (and kitties too). Now that the popular social network site has over 500 million active users, animal advocates are coming up with creative ways to implement Facebook to promote causes and seek homes for pets.

Petfinder.com remains the best way to search nationwide for the dog or cat of your dreams. For example, once you do the broad search for “Saint Bernard”, you can narrow your choices by gender or distance. It is also an excellent tool for shelters listing all their current pets or for purebred rescues monitoring when and where their breed surfaces in a shelter.

Presently, Petfinder shows 350,000 pets (split about half dog, half cat) belonging to over 13,000 groups. Since 1995, Petfinder has helped with more than 13 million adoptions. Last week as soon as a curly Wheaten was posted on the Babylon Shelter Petfinder, a Doodle Rescue in NJ inquired about fostering her. They faxed literature about their operation and came for her later in the week.

Facebook is a useful adoption vehicle too for several reasons. Many rescue groups and shelters have their own Facebook page. Last Hope Animal Rescue has two- one for the whole organization and another just for the Dog Center. Photos can be posted and then updated so progress is easily chronicled. Last Hope displayed the West Hills hoarders’ dogs leaving the SPCA van and then with their foster families. Pixie, a Mama dog that Last Hope took from Brookhaven Shelter was adopted Saturday. One day later, a video of Pixie playing with her new K-9 siblings was on the Last Hope Facebook page.

With Facebook you can fine tune your “captive” adopter audience to your followers, who in turn can post the same appeals on their wall. This way, you reach people with at least a peripheral connection to your rescue. Others prefer to open the pet posts to the universe. Viewers can ask questions about available pets, and the Facebook administrator can answer publicly or privately. Then other people besides the administrator can chime in with additional information about the dog or cat; whereas Petfinder inquirers have the ability to correspond with the shelter site manager but not to establish a public, ongoing dialogue about a dog or cat. Volunteers or shelter staff can display needy dogs/cats on their Facebook wall too. Rescues can publicize events or fundraisers, and send personalized invitations to followers.

In contrast, Craig’s List is a dangerous place to offer a pet for adoption, especially when responders are not screened. On Craig’s List, people of questionable character can hide behind anonymity and say whatever they want. Too often online bashers, brave because they are nameless, post false messages to ruin the reputation of others. I realize there are exceptions, but Craig’s List may be a helpful place to advertise a lost or found pet, yet not a safe site to re-home one. There is a big difference between placing a Poodle and selling a ping pong table.

Celebrity dogs or cats have their own Facebook pages. Take a look at the page for Nora the Piano Playing Cat or Rufus the Colored Bull Terrier. (Rufus, Best In Show at Westminster in 2006, is a therapy dog.) . Now rescue pets or animals in distress can have their own Facebook pages too.

This summer, carelessness at the airlines lost two more dogs. In August, Daisy, a Shepherd mix flying home to California, bolted during a lay-over in Newark when a Continental handler decided to take her for a walk and clipped the leash wrong. Team Vivi and Rescue Ink helped organize a massive search.

The dog’s Facebook page entitled Bring Daisy Home brought joy to over 1,000 followers a month later when Daisy was recovered and reunited with her family. By the way, the handler was fired.

Then on Sept. 7th, British Airways lost Ramsay, a five pound Yorkie when his crate fell off the conveyor belt at JFK and burst open. He ran out onto the runway. Ramsay’s owner is a Connecticut native living in London, and the dog needed vaccines so he was delayed going overseas with her. That’s why he wasn’t in the cabin. This search has included tracking dogs and some of the same dedicated people. There is a $4,000 reward yielding a few possible sightings near the Conduit and Valley Stream, but so far no Ramsay. His Facebook page Yorky Ramsay Lost at JFK Airport….REWARD has a smaller following than Daisy’s. Awareness is the key to recovery of a lost pet so as more people join, the word spreads. Ramsay is a tiny Yorkie with a tail and a European microchip. Please check Ramsay’s Facebook page which archives the media coverage, and then be observant of anyone in New York carrying around a “new” Yorkie. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Facebook were responsible for Ramsay’s safe return?

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (643- 9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: The Babylon pets do not have their own Facebook page yet…Hint, hint. This week’s poster pets include “No Name” in C-7 a sweet 3 year old abandoned, declawed, cinnamon cat. “Katie” # 93562 is a young Terrier mix about 15 lbs. found at K-Mart in W. Babylon.

Male: “Blue” #93487 the quiet Shep/Lab; hefty Clumber Spaniel mix # 93531; a “Porky” (aka Yorkie/ Pug mix)

Female: the pretty Pits-“Lydia, Jinni, Star, Brownie, Asia”; thin Husky- fly-bitten ears in Cage 39.

Special Events: * Town of Babylon Pet Fair to benefit the shelter’s Buddy Cares wellness fund on Sat. Sept. 25th from 11 am to 4 pm at Tanner Park in Copiague. Vendors, Frisbee dog demos, plus low cost rabies vaccines and microchips courtesy of Aldrich Animal Hospital. Well- behaved, leashed dogs are invited. Meet adoptables from the shelter.

•Also, this Sat., the 12th annual Grateful Greyhounds Fall Ball at Belmont Lake State Park from 11 to 3…fun and everything you need to know about adopting a retired, racing Greyhound. Lunch. $10 per person donation. All bipeds are invited, but only Greyhounds are permitted. www.gratefulgreys.com or call 516- 735-5070.

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