On Monday, Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in Atlanta posted a painfully cute picture: two dogs (Kala and Keira) hugging. But what made the post truly heartbreaking was the accompanying caption, which imagined what might be going through the pups' heads: "We're so scared in here. The people working in the shelters see how scared we are, but just told each other that today is our deadline. We have to have someone rescue us or we'll be 'next'" — alluding to the sad fact that many pets are put down if they can't find adoptive homes.
The ASPCA estimates that over 7 million dogs and cats end up in U.S. shelters each year. Of those, 2.7 million are euthanized. Fortunately, Kala and Keira aren't "next." An update was posted by their shelter two hours later, explaining that the dogs would not be put down, due to the outpouring of love on social media. But, these pups are hardly the first to have appeared on the internet in dire straits; in fact, an increasing number of shelters are using Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to find pets homes.
“Social media can very well be a powerful tool in promoting animals for adoption in shelters around the country. Cute, funny, and moving photos of shelter dogs and shelter cats can spread far and wide, thanks to the viral power of social sharing," Dr. Emily Weiss of the ASPCA tells us. "At our Adoption Center, we’ve had situations in which folks found out about animals for adoption on social media and as a result, ended up bringing them in to their loving home. "
While it's difficult to estimate exactly how many dogs are adopted via online networks, anecdotes abound. In February of last year, a dog about to be put down in Orange Country, FL, was adopted within two hours after his picture was put up on Facebook. This past April, a dog in a Long Island shelter was adopted after a photo of him was posted on Facebook. In it, he held a sign reading, "Why doesn't anybody want me? I've been waiting five years. Everyone at the shelter tells me what a good boy I am. So why has no one adopted me? I promise to be good and love my new family. Please, maybe you are my new family. I sit and wait for you to come."
If you want to adopt a pet near you, check out the ASPCA's site for local shelter listings.