NEWSFLASH: Animal rescue in all its incarnations is about the animals, not YOU.
Yeah, that seems like a no-brainer, but I am astounded by the number of people I come across in rescue who are all about being congratulated or about winning some kind of imaginary competition in their own addled brains. It happened again yesterday, and this time it really set my hair on fire.
Some of you may know (and if you don’t, you should), that I am the founder of the Community page, Lost & Found Ohio Pets on Facebook. I’ve written about my community page here before, and about why I started it.
I have met some wonderful people since then, some whom have volunteered to help me admin the page. My co-founder is Annie, who helps me create procedures and educate the public. Rox puts in hours each day reviewing the posts people make, making sure she has complete information and then sharing the posts to our timeline. Karen and Amanda crosspost the listings. Denise scans the page for comments indicating that a pet has made it home, and moves those pets into our ‘Home Safe’ albums. Brianna texts people who have listed their pets and follows up with them to see if the animal (or pet’s family) has been found. (People are not so great about posting when their pet’s case is resolved.) I do some of all these things, plus keep a database of the animals and file every animal’s photo and info in monthly albums for easy viewing and updating. We all devote many hours to the page.
Since the page began in February of 2013, more than 4,000 animals have been posted and shared on our page. How does sharing work? Well, if you click ‘share’ on a Facebook post it puts that post on your own timeline, where your friends can see it. Unfortunately, Facebook will s how the post to only about 12% of your Facebook friends, but hopefully, some of them will share the post from your page, and 12% of their friends will see it. As you can imagine, it’s kind of a snowball effect, allowing a single post to be seen by thousands of people…making that animal more visible, and therefore, more likely that someone, somewhere, will have some information about the missing pet.
Facebook might just as well have been created for the purpose of rescue. Rescue groups were quick to discover the possibilities, and have used the service to help millions of animals worldwide.
Lost & Found Ohio Pets is not the only such service on Facebook. There are hundreds. There are at least a dozen pages just for Ohio pets. Each page has their own followers, – admittedly, there is some overlap – but it ends up being a very large network. From the beginning, we have done whatever we can to work with those other groups to give our pets and theirs more visibility. This effort has not always been reciprocated.
Yesterday, a popular and successful page had a run-in with one of my admins. Our admin posted in the comments under one of their listings that the pet’s family should also post their information to Lost & Found Ohio Pets. This prompted the following response from the admin of that page. I’m posting it word for word: “Why in the world would you encourage someone to utilize your page that has no history of reunions?!”
First of all, the statement is blatantly false. We’ve been instrumental in plenty of reunions, and have received hundreds of messages from families thanking us for our service. Secondly, it is unkind. Don’t want to work together? Say so. Don’t make false statements about us. When the admin told me about this, I messaged the admin of that page to ask why they would malign Lost & Found Ohio Pets when we should be working together.
The conversation that ensued is what set my hair on fire. I’m not one to malign other groups, and usually when I have something critical to say about a person or group, I don’t name them…but this was so over the top, that I am not going to pull any punches. The group is Pet FBI (formerly Pet FBI Ohio).
Pet FBI is a good group. They have had a lot of success. They are a group that has a website with an online database where you can post a lost or found pet, which they also share on their Facebook page. They are not the only such group that operates that way. They are also for pets nationwide, not just Ohio. They work just as hard as we do to get lost animals home, but they use a method that we do not. There’s no rule that says everybody in rescue has to do things the same way! We list Pet FBI in the notes on our page, as another place people should go to post their missing pet…because we are all about networking, and want people to use every avenue available to them BECAUSE GETTING THE LOST PET SEEN AND HOME IS WHAT IS IMPORTANT.
I was very discouraged to learn during my conversation with their admin that there is some mighty ego at work, and I’m sorry, but there is JUST NO PLACE IN RESCUE FOR EGO. Ego hinders the mission.
When I asked why that admin maligned our page, she wrote “Don’t comment on our page suggesting people utilize your page. Simple as that.“
At face value, I can understand that. When you have a web page you don’t want to direct people away from it, you want to keep them engaged. But we’re not talking about business, we’re talking about rescue. And getting pets home requires getting the word out to as many people as possible.
When I said that to Pet FBI Ohio’s admin, she disagreed. Apparently, they don’t want to work with other groups. The admin said “Pet FBI has been around since 1998 as a CENTRAL location to facilitate reunions of lost and found pets. Way before Facebook and before you created your FB page. You are doing a disservice to lost and found pets in Ohio. If you truly cared about lost and found pets in Ohio you would suggest pet owners and finders that post on your page utilize our free lost and found pet database. “
Wait. Don’t we already do that? And let me get this straight…didn’t this admin just tell me out admins should not suggest on their page that people also utilize our page…but she wants us to tell people on our page to utilize their page? What is wrong with this picture? She thinks I don’t truly care about lost and found pets? I hate it when people tell me what I do and do not care about….especially people who do not know me.
And, most aggravating, to say that we are doing a disservice to lost and found pets in Ohio? Maybe she should say that to the families of these pets: posted and shared on the Lost & Found Ohio Pets page who made it home safely just in the past 6 weeks.
I’m not saying we are 100% responsible for these happy endings, but I am saying that our page was instrumental.
When I discussed this conversation with my co-founder, Annie, it set her hair on fire too. She said “How dare anyone take anything away from a missing pet or their owner. I would have said as much. There is no such thing as a success rate, this isn’t a game. This is pets and people suffering with lost pets, and time is never on your side when your pet goes missing. Making friends in the cross posting and networking community is imperative to a safe return. Many of the dogs can be euthed in a pound as a stray the day they enter. What disservice is being done here? Not to mention in 3 days someone else can adopt your dog. That would mean we post everywhere, in every way as fast as possible. Not all pages can keep up, so having many avenues is necessary. I would not have been able to stop that conversation with as strongly as I feel about limiting dogs in pounds. When there isn’t a success story what the fuck does she think happened? Time, views, networking, was not on the side of the owner and pet and I guarantee many went to pounds and what happens next no one knows!”
That’s my philosophy, and I’m sticking to it. Network, network, network. Don’t think you can do it yourself, because going it alone actually limits the chances for the lost animals. Work together.
If you stayed with me for this whole post, thank you. Honestly, I had trouble with this post tonight. I asked myself ‘Is airing this disagreement ego-driven?’ I’m not really sure. I just know that networking is what gets lost pets home and saves pets’ lives, and that’s what matters.
Please network. Please use every avenue available to you when you lose a pet. And quit keeping score. It’s not a competition, it’s a mission.