Social Media Saves Lives

Last Fall, I became a member of a nonprofit organization board that is dedicated to a dog breed that I’ve had since the age of four. Joining this organization as their Director of Marketing and Fundraising became a natural extension of my professional and personal passions. Little did I know that another of my passions – social media – would play a critical role in saving the life of one of these dogs.

This nonprofit foundation educates current and prospective owners about the breed. This breed is not particularly well known in the U.S.: it requires special grooming and behavioral training. Like most breeds, it is also predisposed to some genetic challenges. While looking for a volunteering opportunity where I could contribute and tap into some of my strengths and interests, the position of e-newsletter editor and social media manager for this organization fell into my lap.

OpenMindWorks manages social media projects for a number of for-profit organizations. Assuming the responsibility for this nonprofit’s Facebook page felt like a great fit. Little did I know that my involvement would also save a dog’s life.

Recently a dog fancier posted a link on the Foundation’s page to a “death row dog” that had been surrendered to a high-kill shelter in the metro New York area. Most of the dogs that arrive there have a one-way ticket and it’s highly unusual for such a high-maintenance breed to wind up in a shelter. Time was of the essence: the clock was ticking for this dog and if we didn’t move quickly, he wouldn’t get out.

Pepper is a seven-year-old purebred male who was surrendered because of aggression issues. Aggression is not uncommon in this breed, but with proper training, this behavior can be successfully treated and managed. Pepper arrived at the shelter as a matted, shaggy mess. In his admission photo, it was difficult to discern what he really looked like – some questioned if he was a purebred or a mixed breed. The fear in his eyes, however, was quite clear.

The Foundation’s rescue network jumped into action and we contacted other no-kill rescue groups via Facebook to seek their assistance with pulling Pepper from the shelter. Only a small number of authorized rescue groups are permitted to pull dogs from this shelter. Luckily we were able to pull Pepper just in the nick of time. He was transported from the shelter by volunteers to a loving foster home where he currently resides. He has been vetted, is currently under evaluation and will be treated for his aggression issues. Once those issues have been resolved, Pepper will be put up for adoption by the Foundation. Prospective adopters will be carefully screened in order to find a perfect “forever home” match for Pepper.

Had the Foundation not been contacted about Pepper via Facebook, this dog most certainly would have perished. Helping to obtain his release, working with my colleagues to find him a safe haven and most important – giving Pepper a second chance – has proven more rewarding than I convey. #dogslivesmatter

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