‘Helping the animals’ find homes

Facebook page assists in adoption of shelter dogs, cats

THREE RIVERS — A community of nearly 4,500 people is “Helping the Animals of St Joe Co MI AC” through a Facebook page set up by Laura Barley of Three Rivers and Nancy Hunt of Three Rivers that shares photos of new animals at St. Joseph County Animal Control and gives updates on when they have been adopted.
Barley and Hunt did a lot of research before getting started, watching the pages of other shelters and rescue groups to see what worked.
“We saw a page we liked from Lapeer,” Barley said. It was professionally done, only the administrators were able to post, and “the animals were flying out the door.”
The two ladies chose to use the same model of professionalism and administrator-only posts (members of the public can comment, but comments are moderated).
Animal Control staff furnish Barley and Hunt with the information they know about each animal, and allow the two to spend time with each dog and cat to get to know it.
It’s easy to do with the new play yards at the shelter — now the animals can run off their stress before calming down and showing their true personalities.
“Give them 10 minutes in the play yard and you’ll know how they will be with a family,” Hunt said.
Rather than trying to sneak difficult animals out through posts with clever disguising verbiage, their goal is to share the information they know about each animal, so a potential adopter can determine if it is a good fit.
How well does the dog sit, shake, take food, go to the bathroom? Is it a jumper? A barker?
And the animals are finding families.
Members of the page are getting dogs adopted that Barley would never have expected, due to their age, sickness or blindness.
Animal Control only had to euthanize five dogs this year.
Hunt noted that they get updates all the time from the dogs’ new owners.
“Nobody used to come into Animal Control, now they are everywhere,” Barley said. “Once they opened the door to volunteers, I think they’ve seen this is a great community of animal lovers.” People donate toys, beds, towels and more. There was even a box from someone in California whose sister had adopted two cats.
The page also has some success stories of finding original owners.
One involved a dog from LaGrange, Ind. who was picked up as a stray just over the county line and no one knew where he was from.
Another, the dog had been missing nine months from 200 miles away. The post was shared repeatedly and ultimately came to the attention of the owner, who came to pick the dog up.
“The dog was ecstatic — we were all bawling,” Barley said.
They also work with the 3,000-member “Lost and Found Pets Sturgis/Howe/Lagrange” Facebook page.
Elena Meadows can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or news@threeriversnews.com.

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