Picture this: a fire in a city, a dog is scared and runs away from the noise, the smell and the confusion. The family is injured, the lost dog is older and alone in the night. One message on Facebook gets the word out to hundreds of people, many of which start looking or messaging friends in the city to look. Photos are posted, numbers are shared and later the dog is found and is safely being cared for. Literally with a single message popular social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter can connect people from next door or around the world.
Picture this: an animal lover learns about two senior dogs that no longer have people caring for them on their remote farm, and the neighbor is going to shoot them if no one gets them out before winter. Someone stops by and drops off food but they are essentially alone. Their photos and a story are shared with a breed rescue group (in this case Hulls’ Haven Border Collie Rescue, of Teulon, MB). The group posts the photos to their Facebook pages, and asks their members to cross post and share. The request? Find a home for these two dogs to ‘retire’ to, and find drivers for their rescue relay (a series of drivers or sometimes planes, which transport rescue animals from distant areas to a safe place) and arrange for everyone to put the trip together. The dogs found a home, the drivers volunteered and the diligent Customs Officers’ ensured they were properly documented for entry and they are enjoying a working retirement on a Manitoba ranch.
What would the outcome for these three dogs have been without the efforts of rescue volunteers and the power of social networking? Certain death for two, and possibly a long, cold time spent alone and lost for the other.
One of the quickest ways to get in touch with people, Social Networking has been tested and used by Emergency Measure’s Organizations to notify members, by animal rescue groups to get help for animals in need and by the community while looking for people who may be at risk. The world shrinks according to how connected we are to each other, and while this can lead to many challenges it opens up far more opportunities. When planning to be prepared for emergencies, social networking can be a key tool.
There are many ways that social networking can help provide resources, and information about animal care and animal welfare. Through groups and fan pages information can be shared, requests and posts can be uploaded, photos and calls for assistance can be circulated and people from the animal rescue community can connect with each other, share resources and talk. A quick search for ‘animal rescue’ revealed over 775 pages and almost 4000 groups! Not all are going to be actual rescue organizations, some maybe support groups, authors and resources. Some could be activists or just folks fooling around but even with all that where else could you find literally thousands of people who share, care and work together with a common goal – in this case, animal rescue.
Other ways to connect include blogs and websites – one a newer media and the other an old standard. The trouble with either of them is the lack of immediate connection you get in social networking. You literally can put out a message and come back with response minutes later. From grass roots local organizations working with groups from both sides of the Canada-US border, to international groups sharing information with their hundreds of thousands of members and everything in between.
Post, cross post, share, like and comment can make all the difference in the world to an animal or animal rescue group. What do you use your Facebook for?