It started by trying to help one pet owner, but it grew into much more.
When a dog named Daisy went missing in 2012, the owner's neighbor, Gail Bass, came up with a creative idea to help bring the pup home. She'd already seen how quickly information spread through social media, so she started a Facebook group called Loxahatchee Lost and Found Pets.
She encouraged her friends and neighbors to join the group and posted about how Daisy had gone missing from her home. It was her hope that someone in the area would spot the dog and make the connection after seeing her post. Unfortunately, this story doesn't have the happy ending most people expect. Daisy was never found, but Bass didn't give up on her idea.
She knew she couldn't save every pet, but with more followers and better exposure, she knew she could make a difference. As the group grew, it became obvious that she was right.
The Facebook group now has over 10,000 members and has helped reunite thousands of pets with their owners. They report helping an average of 85 pets a month all through social media word of mouth and a network of local residents.
Bass works with two partners to manage the site, and they've recently taken their efforts to the next level. They're now an officially incorporated non-profit with a pet food pantry and emergency fund to help local pet owners. Bass's partner, Dawn DiBari, told the Palm Beach Post:
"We couldn't believe how many dogs and cats were actually missing in the area. It's been wonderful to try to get them home."
Dogs and cats are the most common kinds of pets they help, but they've also assisted in reuniting other kinds of animals. The list includes pigs, goats, horses, and even a prairie dog named Honey.
The prairie dog's owner, Joanne, didn't have much hope when she desperately posted in the group late one night. But by 10 a.m. the next morning, someone had responded saying they'd seen a prairie dog nearby. And soon after that, she got word that another person had Honey safe in their care four miles away.
"I seriously almost fainted," said Joanne. "Never in a million years did I think I would ever get her back."
Loxahatchee Lost and Found Pets has been the reason for hundreds of reunions just like Joannes's. To help improve their reach, the group is currently saving money to buy a drone. Pet owner Ken Hendrick frequently uses his personal drone to search for lost pets from the sky, and the strategy has proven to be extremely effective.
Bass and her team were too late to help Daisy, but their continued efforts have made a big difference for both pets and people in the Acreage and Loxahatchee, Florida area.
What do you think of using social media to find lost pets? Let us know in the comments.
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