Pensacola, Florida
Saturday October 25th 2014

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The Social (Pet) Network

by Jessica Forbes

For quite some time, social media has been a prime venue for proud pet owners to show off their furry friends. But it turns out Facebook can actually be useful for pet owners with more serious situations than debating how to crop their profile photo in a flattering way.

The Lost and Found Pets of Pensacola & Surrounding Areas Facebook page operates solely through social media. The page was founded in January 2013 and has since built over 4,800 followers and posts an estimated 20 to 30 notices a day. It seems like everybody in Pensacola knows at least one person who “likes” the page, if not more, so if you’re on Facebook at all you’ve probably seen at least one re-post from their page.

“We are so grateful to have such a large network to help these animals,” said Christina Walmer, a volunteer who has helped coordinate the page since March. “We all have such a heart for these creatures … it is this passion that really commits us to this cause.”

Whether a person has lost or found an animal, they are able to message the moderators, who will post user-supplied pictures and information.

“We have five steady admins on this page right now, but countless people that volunteer their time in all kinds of ways to support this effort,” explained Walmer. “We always welcome more help, but try to tell people from the beginning how much work it can be.”

Understandably, receiving reports and comforting owners of lost pets takes an emotional toll on the volunteers. “We see sad, terrible, tragic stories every day,” said Walmer. “We deal with people that are in very desperate places, people that are at their worst because they have lost one of their family members.”

Conversely, every reunion of pet and owner bolsters the admins and fans. “I love every success story and every post we get about a reunification or happy adoption,” said Walmer.

As one of the first posts in the page’s “Happy Tails” photo album, Walmer ranks the case of Lulu among her most favorite of the page-driven successes. “We posted something about Lulu almost every day and through all of the community effort and [owner] Sarah’s diligence, Lulu was found and returned home,” remembers Walmer.

As the page garners more likes and attention, its role is evolving with more visitors turning to them for general information. “We get lots of people seeking advice about animals that they believe to be mistreated, or animals that have unexplained sicknesses,” said Walmer. “We are becoming a forum for all issues animal related, which I think is great. And I anticipate that number growing as we get more followers on our page.”

Visit Facebook.com/LostAndFoundPetsofPensacola.