Three to four million dogs and cats are put to sleep in animal shelters across the United States each year. But more and more shelters and rescue groups are making it possible to save or even adopt one of these animals through social media and just a click of the mouse.
Jane Belsky fell in love with her lab named Splash after the group Lucky Lab Rescue posted his picture on its Facebook site in hopes of finding him a home and saving his life.
“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,” said Belsky.
Belsky typed this response on Splash's Facebook post, "With a name like Splash, he belongs here on the Lake. We would love to take him."
Splash is not the only. The founder of Lucky Lab Rescue, Katherine Martin, says social media helped save hundreds of other dogs, too.
“Dogs who have just a matter of minutes to survive are able to get pulled from these shelters,” said Martin.
And 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, cows, piglets, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets.
“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,” said Social Media Expert, Patrick O'Malley.
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. For example, donations for a three-legged dog named Cookie came pouring in for her medical care. Someone living hundreds of miles away from the pooch saw the post and adopted Cookie moments before she was going to be put to sleep.
“Social media and Facebook in general has helped us raise a lot of money for dogs we ordinarily wouldn't have the funds to help,” explained Martin.
Rescue groups are also using Facebook and Twitter to arrange transports for adopted pets to their forever homes by organizing transportation through volunteers or donated frequent flier miles.
As for Splash, he traveled across the country to be with his new family.
“I'm so glad we did this. We just love this dog,” said Janet Belsky.
“The dogs tend to know they've been rescued also. They know they've been saved and they're forever grateful to you,” added her husband, Peter Christmas.
The Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says they urge shelters to advertise pets on social media before putting them to sleep.