Animal rescue goes viral, benefiting animals in need and their lucky humans.
If we’ve learned nothing else through social media, it’s pretty obvious we are all suckers for a “happily ever after,” especially when it involves animals in need. Is there a person out there who doesn’t melt when they see heartwarming stories of kittens and puppies in their Facebook streams? Or who doesn’t follow some Instagram dog or cat legend? Judging by the number of accounts dedicated to cute animals and animal memes, it seems most of us are head over heels for animals.
Courtesy of Eldad Hagar via Flickr
CHANGING AN ANIMAL’S LIFE THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
More important, though, is the effect social media has on animal rescue. To have a “happily ever after,” there must be an unhappy beginning. Since its inception, social media has been a place to keep in touch with distant family members and friends, meet new ones, and see the best and the worst of humanity. Each day on social media there are countless new stories of animal neglect, abuse, apathy and animals in need. Fortunately, there are also people and organizations working hard to save those animals. If there is a special place in hell for animal abusers, there must be a special place in heaven for those who save, foster and rehabilitate animals in need.
There must be a special place in heaven for those who save, foster and rehabilitate animals in need.
Animal rescue agencies take on many forms. Some are focused on either dogs or cats, some have actual brick-and-mortar facilities, while others offer a network of foster placements where the animals in need are given medical care, affection and a promise of a better future.
IT DOES TAKE A VILLAGE…
Hope For Paws Animal Rescue Organization in Los Angeles takes the animal rescue commitment quite literally. Formed over seven years ago by Audrey and Eldad Hagar, Hope For Paws gained national attention when they began filming actual animal rescues throughout the city and uploading them to social media. Videos on their YouTube channel routinely attract millions, even tens of millions, of views. With each video a story unfolds, and though it’s only one chapter, it’s a very rewarding one. Sometimes an animal rescue is fairly simple, such as when a dog is too sick or exhausted to resist the rescuer who’s come to help him. But there are times, as Lisa Arturo from Hope For Paws explains, when fear makes it impossible to retrieve animals in need on the first, second or even third try. Some dogs are borderline feral and it has taken up to seven tries to complete a rescue, which may involve being bitten by the dog they are trying to save.
Courtesy of Eldad Hagar via Flickr
After a trip to the vet for an examination, a course of treatment for the dog is determined. Many animals in need will have issues with parasites, mange or malnutrition that must be addressed before any foster placement or adoption can take place. Though a few animals have been too sick to save, for the most part behavioral problems are not the reason a dog cannot go on to a new home. All dogs are seen by a trainer and worked with before they are deemed ready for another rescue organization to step in or before the dog can be adopted into a new home. As Lisa says, “People might think they are damaged or broken, but they turn out to be amazing pets.”
“People might think they are damaged or broken, but they turn out to be amazing pets.”
— Lisa Arturo
Through these videos, the animals take on a face and a name. The personalizing of the animals in need as they go from the actual rescue to vet care and grooming, as they let go of fear and learn to trust, is what compels people to share their stories over social media. Seeing the work accomplished by just a few encourages donations as people realize that even a small amount can make a difference in saving an animal.
Perhaps one of the most attention-grabbing rescues that ever played out on social media was that of Lady, a senior dog who ended up in a shelter when her owner died, was adopted by one family and was later given to a family friend when she didn’t get along with their smaller dogs. Lady then escaped and ran 30 miles back toward her original adopters who would not reclaim her. The story was posted on Facebook, where Wrigley heiress, author and Crixeo CEO Helen Rich became aware of the dog’s plight and sent her private plane to pick up the dog she would rename Lady. As the photo of Lady looking out the window of the jet also went worldwide, we all wondered what was on Lady’s mind.
Courtesy of Helen Rich via Facebook
Helen and Lady bonded quickly. Helen said that Lady was always her dog; it just took a while for them to find each other.
No stranger to animal causes, Helen Rich had years previously founded On the Wings of Angels Rescue, whose mission is to “save dogs that otherwise would have no chance.” Through the foundation dogs are rehabilitated and trained. Because so many owner-surrendered dogs have behavior cited as the reason for surrender, On the Wings of Angels Rescue believes retraining is an integral part of a successful adoption. To that extent, their adoption process includes training for the dog as well as the prospective owners.
After dealing with confusion and no doubt some fear before she was rescued, Lady was able to enjoy many months of being cherished before her passing.
Courtesy of Helen Rich via Facebook
As you can imagine, since Lady’s death Helen has received hundreds of posts for other dogs to rescue, but it wasn’t until this past March that she felt Lady was guiding her to adopt another dog in need. Crispin, since renamed Army, was surrendered to the Carson Animal Care Center in Gardena, California, because at eight years of age, he was considered too old. Judging from his condition, it seemed he hadn’t received much care in his life but, even so, his heart was broken when he was left behind at the shelter. When Helen learned of his deep depression, she knew Army was meant to fill the void in both of their hearts.
OLD DOESN’T MEAN DISPOSABLE
Senior animals are frequently surrendered to shelters, and social media has been helpful in exposing this problem. Relinquishing an older family pet because they are a little harder to take care of or they no longer fit in with the family lifestyle only reinforces the ugliness of our disposable society.
Courtesy of Susie’s Senior Dogs via Facebook
Susie’s Senior Dogs began when Brandon Stanton, founder of the Humans of New York Facebook page, encountered a man who asked him to take care of his dog as he was no longer able to. Little Susie would soon become the face of a movement started by Brandon’s girlfriend, Erin O’Sullivan, to increase awareness of senior dog adoptions and animals in need. Sadly, Susie recently passed away at the age of 17, but her legacy includes over half a million followers on Facebook. On the Susie’s Senior Dogs Facebook page, you will find hundreds of stories of senior adoptions brought about by posting a few photos of a sweetly funny-looking senior lady. After Susie’s passing, Brandon posted on his website, “There are few greater blessings than a wildly happy dog greeting you at the door.”
And when it comes to saving a dog’s life or giving animals in need a second chance, we couldn’t agree more.