The Power of Social Networking for Shelter Pet Adoption

I'm an animal lover. Always have been, always will be. My current count of furry children is two dogs and two cats — a good number for my household and taking all of the different personalities into account. (If I had the room we'd have horses and goats, but that's another story, lol.) All of them are rescues. Our newest member is an 8 year old beagle — clearly soul mates with my teenage daughter.

In addition to our own furry rescues, my children and I have fostered kittens for the local Humane Society, an amazingly rewarding experience, and can't wait to do so again when kitten season returns. If you're not familiar with the program, kitten fostering allows young kittens who've lost their mother the time to grow, be safe, and get socialized in a foster family's home. As soon as they reach two pounds, the kittens are spayed or neutered, then put up for adoption. It was heart wrenching to give our three babies up, but we consoled ourselves with the reminder that they would be adopted out to wonderful, loving homes because of our care and love.

And yet, even with all the work done by shelters and rescue societies, the Humane Society of the United States estimates that animal shelters care for 6-8 million dogs and cats every year in the United States, of whom approximately 3-4 million are euthanized. Compared to the 1970s when American shelters euthanized 12-20 million dogs and cats a year, things are better, but the number is still heartbreaking.

I've seen, experienced and promoted the connection between social networking and volunteering, another passion of mine, but until I read an article this morning posted on Facebook, I didn't consciously recognize how perfectly social networking supports shelter pet adoption. I repost and retweet our local animal shelter's success stories and available animals within my social network, but hadn't thought about it much, because it's just something I do.

So I'll warn you — have some tissues on hand before you read this article about Nico, a beautiful, deaf Dogo Argentino whose photo from a Los Angeles shelter kicked off a social networking rescue effort. Also know before you start that this story has a happy ending. :-)

Nico before.
Nico after.

Nico's story so clearly illustrates the power of social networking to instigate and empower social change, that it begs the question — what should be our next target?
Where else can the power of social networking make a life-changing impact?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.