I follow three or four local “lost and found pet” groups on Facebook. These are places where people in the community can post photos of dogs they’ve lost or found, and where neighbors can come together in the comments to offer suggestions to both distraught owners of lost dogs or overwhelmed dog finders. These sites can be invaluable for reuniting pets and owners, as members tend to be the kind of people who pay attention and remember any stray or needy animals they’ve seen.
When I have found a stray dog, it’s helpful to already belong to these groups, so I can quickly submit a “found dog” post. Usually, nonmembers of these groups can’t post to them; generally, you have to wait for a moderator to approve of your membership in the group before you can post – and sometimes it takes a moderator a day or more to respond to your request to join the group! As an already-approved member of these groups, I’ve had responses that helped locate the owners of the dog or dogs I found within an hour!
That’s the good news. The bad news is that these groups can also be a place where people with animal-related problems blame others in the community for those problems, look for other people to solve their problems for them, and bash anyone in the helping professions who fail to help. Animal control officers who fail to materialize immediately, shelters that are overcrowded, and veterinarians who fail to go to any lengths to save the lives of injured stray animals often get singled out for shaming and blaming. I try hard not to read those posts – and have to try even harder, sometimes, to not to respond to them!
Well, I failed utterly the other day. Here was the post that caught my eye:
The post reads:
“I felt compelled to write this post and share something sad that happened this afternoon on XXXXX Road. My neighbor called me to say he found a chocolate lab in front of his house that had been hit by a car. I immediately rushed over and the owner was there. The dog was seriously injured but still alert. Both the front and back legs were broken. They had already called several places without success. No one was willing to come out and euthanize her (XXX).
“Most disturbing too (stet) me was discovering the XXXXXXX Veterinary Hospital (my neighbor had been taking their animals too (stet) for the past 30 years (not even a minute up the street) had refused to help. I decided to call the hospital myself hoping that a second house on their street would convince them of the urgency. This poor baby had been out there suffering for over an hour at this point. I was told everyone was with clients and they would call me back. I let them know this animal was a patient of theirs and in immediate need and I was certain their clients would be willing to wait 10 minutes if they knew it meant the end to an animals (stet) misery. Unfortunately this did not help. The animal had to be lifted into the back of a truck by the neighbors (stet) son. More pain and unnecessary suffering.
“The lack of care for the animals entrusted to them in their own community is appalling and unacceptable. I refuse to take my sweet girls XXXX and XXXX their (stet) in the future.
“My heart breaks for XXXXXX and her parents”
Within hours, there were more than 100 comments from people who were promising to never bring business to the named vet clinic and, what’s more, stating that they would be leaving the vet clinic a bad review.
I don’t know the veterinarian at that clinic personally, but I have a friend who takes all of her pets there – and my friend has encouraged me to bring my dogs there if my vets are ever unavailable, because even though this clinic is farther away than the clinics I currently patronize, my friend finds that the vet and support staff there to be uniquely kind and competent, and the wait times not bad. Through my friend (and a quick review of the clinic’s website to be certain), I’m aware that this clinic has one doctor working there. And now there are hundreds of people in our community being told that this doctor is heartless and inhumane, because she didn’t leave her patients on a moment’s notice in order to run down the street and euthanize a dog on the side of the road. Argh!
Social media can do so much good, especially when it’s bringing people together to accomplish something for those in need. Why do so many people insist on using it for negativity?