Having your pet go missing is scary for any owner, but dogs and cats are skipping the pound and connecting with their families faster than before all because of social media.
YYC Pet Recovery is a Calgary Facebook page made up of community members and volunteers that report lost and found animals in Calgary and surrounding areas.
The group now has more than 55,000 followers and has created a community hub of pet lovers that pitch in on locating animals.
- WATCH | Find out how three Calgarians got back their long-lost pets with help from YYC Pet Recovery in the video above
Lea-anne Wilke, co-owner of YYC Pet Recovery, says she got involved with administering the Facebook page in 2012 after noticing there weren’t a lot of posts.
Since then, the page has reunited animals and owners almost daily and has even built up a best practices list to ensure lost pets are found.
“When someone posts a lost or found animal on our site, our first job is to make sure we have the correct information and then give them tips on what to do and who to call,” she said.
Large community of pet lovers
Wilke says that without the large community devoted to help, the page wouldn’t be successful.
“They’re the ones out there finding the lost animals, posting sightings … really putting themselves out there to gain the trust.”
The community has also extended to local veterinarians, Calgary Animal Services and the Calgary Humane Society.
“Calgary is a very animal-loving community. So we get a lot of happiness out of the [reunions] and getting animals safe.”
The group also ensures that no one claims a pet that isn’t their own, which Patricia Horgan, a Calgary dog owner, says she is especially thankful for after reuniting with her Yorkie.
“I was asking people if they’d seen him [after he went missing] and then this lady who I talked to came running back and she said, ‘I think I found your dog,'” she said.
“And she shows me on Facebook YYC Pet Recovery and somebody posted his picture that they had found him.”
The owner says she never knew of the page prior to losing her pup, Griffin.
“I had him back within the hour so it was a huge relief.”
Wilke says that in a lot of cases, owners don’t realize the right way to lure their pet back home
“We know people that are experts in the field, we’ve worked with various rescues, various people who give advice on trapping a scared cat, experts on dogs or rabbits.”
In the case of losing a pet cat, she says they’ve learned that to draw the animal out you have to be patient, go out when it’s quiet and search under decks or bushes.
Here are some more best practices if you lose/ locate a dog or cat:
- Don’t wait and hope your pet comes home, be proactive and check with Calgary Animal Services, Calgary Humane Society and emergency vets.
- Don’t leave food out as it will attract predators but try leaving the owner’s clothing, pet beds, etc.
- If you find an animal, get proof of ownership and photo ID or take to an emergency vet so they can check for a microchip.
- If a pet has been lost for more than a few days, don’t feed it large amounts of food and water immediately.
- If you find an injured pet, take it to an emergency vet immediately as they do not charge you personally for vet care.
- If you locate a dog on its own, call 311 and never chase them as it can entice them to run away.
- Indoor cats will hide for days under a porch, step, bush, shed. Go out late at night when it is quiet and talk for a couple of hours to try and draw them out.
- Ask neighbours to check locked garages, sheds and houses under construction in case your cat has been locked in by mistake.
Lisa Armstrong had lost her cat Charlie recently and found him with the help of the pet recovery page.
“I got a text from one of my friends and she said, ‘Lisa, is your cat missing?’ … Well, I’ve seen a picture of him on social media,'” she said.
Armstrong says her cat had travelled several neighbourhoods away, somewhere she never would have thought to look.
“At that point it had been 92 days he had been out living in the neighbourhood,” she said
“If my friend had not seen that picture, I don’t how much longer he would have been at large.”
The cat owner says she now regularly shares any posts about lost pets in her neighbourhood in hopes she can help others.
“I think if you’ve ever lost a pet and you know how much you missed them you want to see people reunited with their pets.”
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