You’ve seen the hand-written signs tacked on telephone poles and posted alongside roadways: “LOST PET!” Those signs are one common way to find a missing pet. But it’s not the only one.
Did you hear about the family of “Willow,” the calico cat who got lost from her Boulder, Colorado home in 2006? Well, the family got news this fall that she’s safe and sound–five years later–and in New York City, 1,800 miles away. It turns out an animal shelter used a microchip that the family had implanted to reunite them. Great story!
But when your pet goes missing, you want to find her much more quickly than that, if you can. So in addition to considering a microchip, try the “other” technology at your fingertips: your computer. And it’s free.
To get others enlisted quickly, use what’s called “social networking.” That’s tech-talk for using the internet to communicate. And when we’re talking about our furry and feathered friends, many are calling it “social petworking.”
“Old-fashioned” e-mail is one option. Most dogs and cats are eventually found within a mile of home, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. So start there. If your neighborhood has an active homeowners association or other group e-mail lists, use them. Send out a “digital” poster via e-mail. Include a photograph if you have one, a short written description where your pet was last seen, what street or building he lives in and how to contact you.
Facebook it! Facebook.com is a free website where people share similar interests. To use Facebook for your missing pet, think like an advertiser: target your message to the people most likely to see and care about helping you find your pet. For example, look for Facebook pages where people in the area (or your pet’s area) are most likely to be online. For example, take Tracie, a lost pup. Her owner turned to the Facebook page of the local dog park to spread the word. (See the listing below.)
Well, it worked! And Tracie’s owner was nice enough to call everyone off the search once they were reunited. See her updated post, which shows about 13 others who had apparently been trying to help:
Tweets for your pet: Twitter is another website where people with common interests share short messages, called Tweets. To use Twitter to find your lost pet, first post a “lost pet” tweet. (You’ll need a free Twitter account for this.) Next, use the search box to post “lost cat/dog/bird, and your city and state” and see if anyone has found your pet. The Tweet below is from a shelter in North Carolina that found a pooch. It reads, “We think Mojo may be a lost pet. He has been well cared for …”
You might even find an entire a Twitter page to help lost pets and their owners find each other—like ones for pets lost in the tragic wildfires in Texas.
Like some of our examples above show, you can use websites and e-mails to help reunite owners with pets you might find, too. If you use these social media websites, think twice about how much personal information you want to post. And learn to use the “privacy” settings to strike a happy balance between helping your pet reunite with you without sharing too much about where you live or work.
Did you ever find a lost pet through social networking? Tell us the story in the comments!