Social media networking improves lives for animals in need
Living in the smallest state it often feels like everyone knows each other. Of course, that’s not actually the case and even in a very specific segment of the population – animal rescue – people may not be familiar with others in their communities who could be a valuable resource for them.
Yet making connections between the right people can be the difference between life and death for the unwanted animal giving up hope in a local shelter; the struggling owner seeking financial resources to provide needed surgery for a beloved pet; or the rescue urgently trying to recruit fosters in order to save dogs from areas around the country where euthanasia rates are high and options are scarce.
Social media has proven to be a useful tool for shelters, rescues and various other animal welfare organizations. Instead of waiting and hoping for people to visit their facilities or seek out their websites, when a shelter posts the story of an adoptable pet on their Facebook page it can quickly get dozens or hundreds of shares and appear in the newsfeeds of thousands of people - at least one of whom might be eager to provide the perfect forever home but never would have come across their new best buddy otherwise.
While social media has undoubtedly shifted the way shelters and organizations can interact with the public, it also presents an enormous opportunity for everyone involved across the spectrum of animal rescue and advocacy – such as volunteers, fosters, shelter staff, animal control officers, trainers, veterinarians, and more – to get to know and engage with each other and ultimately share resources and offer support.
Created in 2010 as a Facebook community, RI Pet Network aimed to provide this type of forum where various organizations could post about their needs and connect with others who might be in a position to help. Advocates from different rescues and shelters have had the opportunity to get to know each other and often share resources and advice. All the animal lovers who follow the page and share its posts help spread every story far and wide.
This networking has helped hundreds of pets find fosters or forever homes and we’ve even had boarding facilities volunteer open kennels to displaced dogs; veterinarians and trainers offer pro bono or heavily discounted services in emergency situations; and countless individuals and businesses who have generously stepped up to answer organizations’ pleas for donations.
RI Pet Network – which has grown to include a team of volunteer page admins and nearly 10,000 followers on Facebook and launched a Twitter account last year – has also evolved to fulfill a more active role in the animal advocacy landscape. Struggling pet owners now often reach out to the community for guidance and page admins work to connect them with the appropriate resources, such as reputable training programs, low income veterinary services and pet-friendly housing, to enable them to successfully keep and provide for their pets. In cases where rehoming is absolutely necessary, RI Pet Network aims to connect them with safe rescues and shelters to discourage owners from rehoming via sites like Craigslist or without a proper screening process, which can be extremely dangerous for pets.
RI Pet Network held a free “new adopter education” class along with Missing Dogs Massachusetts last spring, the first in what we hope will be a series of educational initiatives to help keep pets safe and increase the chances of adoptions working out. We are now gearing up to collect donations to distribute to local shelters and rescues for the holidays, and see many more opportunities to expand our efforts through successful collaborations in 2018.
Please follow RI Pet Network on social media or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.