GET OUT OF THE DOGHOUSE AND GET ONLINE

lost and found facebook lori welbourne jim huntIf you or someone you know finds or loses a pet, post it on Facebook as soon as possible. If you are not on the most popular social media site in North America, send the picture and details to someone who is, and ask them to post it for you. This advice is intended for everyone who cares about animals, and that includes Dog Control, SPCA and rescue groups.

When a tiny white Maltese went missing in BC on August 30th, her family immediately posted a lost ad to Facebook. It was shared by many, but could not be cross-referenced with any found ads because none were placed by the dog pound that had her for days, or the rescue group that had her the week after that.

BZ was clearly not a stray. She was a lost dog wearing a red harness dropped off by a good samaritan who’d found her. Unfortunately she wasn’t microchipped or wearing a collar with an identity tag. She also wasn’t licensed since she lives out of town. She did have a tattoo however – it was just too faded to read.

As her family frantically searched in a rural area of Kelowna where they’d been camping, BZ was safe at the dog pound. Valerie and Dwayne Bell hadn’t thought to call there though. They were too busy putting up pictures, knocking on doors and talking to everyone they saw.

Fearing she’d been taken by wildlife after days of finding nothing, the family was advised to call Dog Control just in case. Val had already spoken with the SPCA and was told they knew of no dogs matching her description. She then called Kelowna Dog Control and left a message. They didn’t call back until September 10th when they informed the Bell’s the 72 hour holding period had expired and BZ had been re-homed.

Shocked to hear this, Valerie rushed over to speak with them in person and was met with insolence by the young woman at the front. Val requested they call whoever had her pup to let them know her family was desperate to get her back. She was rudely told no, and that all adoptions were final.

“I pleaded for them to just make a call and give the adoptive owners the option,” Val said. “But she refused. She claimed our dog came to them in very rough shape, needed dental and eye surgery and had sat in her lap for two days.”

Tearfully Val explained to her that BZ was 13 years old, had arthritis, was blind in one eye and recently had surgery to remove some teeth. She’d had her beloved pet since she was a puppy and because she’d always been high strung and eccentric, she knew her old dog would be too anxious and stressed to survive in a new home.

“She had the compassion of a stick,” Val said of the employee. “I told her she didn’t have a heart and left bawling.”

Not willing to give up, the distressed owner took it up with a superior who agreed to make a call. That resulted in being told the same thing: there was nothing they could do, it was done. Val warned she’d keep fighting for BZ and took her story to the media.

After a CTV News interview aired on September 13th she received an anonymous call telling her to look on the Okanagan Small Dog and Rescue website. Sure enough BZ was on the adoption page and re-named Peanut.

BZWhen she contacted Wendy McIntyre at the rescue she was told if they hadn’t taken her, the dog probably would have been euthanized. She was also informed her blind eye had been removed at a veterinary hospital.

The rescue agreed to tell the 90-year-old adoptive owner about the situation and BZ was promptly given back.

“She won’t let me out of her site for a second,” Val said. “She’s a mess. She cries all night unless I’m right there touching her.”

All of this likely would have been avoided if Dog Control or the rescue had simply placed a lost ad on Facebook when they got her.

There’s an amazing community of animal lovers that share lost and found pictures to different Facebook pages as well as their own. With so many people working together to reunite pets with their families, the Bell’s would have been alerted if a picture of BZ had been posted to a local page.

Some Dog Controls, SPCA’s and rescues are already doing this with their own Facebook pages and websites – it’s high time for the rest to follow suit. All of them should be posting every single pet they get in, and every single pet put up for adoption.

There are well over a hundred stolen and missing dogs in the Okanagan since last year, and countless throughout the province, the country and the continent. Some have fallen victim to depraved dognappers or wild animals, and others have been re-homed or euthanized before they had a chance to be found. BZ is not the first, and she won’t be the last, but communicating on Facebook and posting every critter will minimize the possibility of cherished pets falling through the cracks. Transparency and interaction with the public is long overdue.