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Pet Project

Pet Project
August 2017

The story behind a Facebook page dedicated to reuniting people with their furry pals 

There’s that dreaded telltale sign: the front gate is oddly ajar, a fresh tunnel has appeared under the fence, or your arrival home is greeted by an unsettling silence. Most anyone with a pet has felt—at least for a few moments—the fear that sets in when he or she appears to be missing.

It used to be that scouring the neighborhood, hanging signs, and visiting shelters was about all a person could do. But social media has expanded the audience for lost-pet pleas, and in the Holy City, there’s an impressive network of Facebook groups and pages that aim to reunite wayward creatures with their people.

The largest, with more than 11,000 followers, is Lost and Found Pets Charleston SC. Numerous animals go up daily, with 100 or so people sharing each one’s info to their personal pages. And when a post is edited to broadcast happy news (“UPDATE—Gus’s people have been found! He’s home!”), the “likes” flood in.

“The more eyes we have, the more animals we bring home,” says “Aubrey,” the group’s administrator, who wished to speak under a pseudonym. After all, running a volunteer effort like this is more complex than most would imagine. Aubrey fields every message that the page receives, copying posts from the inconspicuous “visitor’s wall” and placing them on the main page, often edited “to convey as much information as possible; just ‘lost dog’ isn’t enough.” If her identity as the “admin” was widely known, messages would fill her personal account, too. “I run a business and have multiple foster dogs and puppies in my home, so I barely sleep as it is!” she laughs.

By press time, all three of these pooches posted to the Lost and Found Pets Charleston SC page were home safe, while kitty Riku was still missing in Knightsville.

Aubrey has also found that a page has more universal appeal if it isn’t linked to a specific person. “I get a lot of leads on animal abuse cases. If I had an identity on the page, someone might not like my personality, they might not like something I say, and then they’d be less willing to give information,” she explains.

In addition to communicating regularly with law enforcement regarding cases of abuse and animal theft, Aubrey collaborates with the admins of other pages and groups dedicated to lost and found pets in the area. And she keeps in touch with staff from area shelters, who use the page as a resource for matching intakes to lost animals.

But members of the public are the real power behind Lost and Found Pets Charleston SC. “I’ve seen a search party of 50-plus people out looking for one dog,” says Aubrey. “It’s the way people band together to help each other—and to help animals—that keeps me going.”


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