Special Report: Saved by Social Media

Jody and Freddy Widner love Huskies
Jody and Freddy Widner love Huskies
Pepper and Steve Batson
Pepper and Steve Batson

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Social media sites have become vital parts of many of our lives, but the lives of some homeless pets depend on those sites. Shelters, rescue groups, and animal advocates use the internet every day to connect animals with loving owners, making sure countless animals are Saved by Social Media.

A quick look at Jody and Freddy Widner walking their dogs, and you can tell they love huskies. "Because they're such people dogs," Jody said.

And they found most of their dogs through social media. "Four times, three times. I can't keep track," Jody said. "This is our latest. It's Mystic."

Recently the Widners actually went to the Albany Humane Society looking for a different dog whose picture they saw on the Humane Society's facebook page.

When they found out that dog already found a home, they met Mystic and thought she'd be a perfect fit for them.

"She was Keiko's twin, or so I thought, and I had to have her," Jody said.

That kind of story is becoming more common here at the Albany shelter. "We utilize facebook every day," said Donna Strickland Albany Humane Society Exec. Director.

They often post pictures of animals up for adoption. "People just start sharing, and it's amazing how many people see the stories."

And often that immediately leads to calls from people interested in adopting the featured animals.

Even calls from places you might not expect. "We've had people from Savannah, from as far away as Maryland that have seen pictures on facebook and adopted," said Strickland.

An internet post about this dog named Pepper led Steve Batson to the shelter. His black lab Molly died a few months ago. "It's a pretty dog. Kinda hard to replace a dog you've had for 14 years."

But now he's looking for another lab. "These really are such naturally sweet animals."

And facebook is a key part of his search. "It's my communication tool of choice these days."

The Widners agree.  Not only do they use facebook to find pets for themselves but for other dog lovers too.

"There have been several dogs that I have tagged people on, especially on facebook, and said 'have you seen this?'"

Because they want to use any tool they can to help homeless animals. "It's hard to think about animals that don't have places to go," said Jody.

But it's becoming easier to find them places to go thanks to social media. The Albany Humane Society also uses their facebook page to help reunite lost pets with their owners. A local website called Peanut's Friends is also having great success finding lost pets through their site and facebook page.

Copyright 2013 WALB.  All rights reserved.