The Love/Hate Relationship of Social Media and Rescue

Oh, the double-edged sword of Facebook. Rescuers know it well – what started as a brilliant method for sharing dogs in need and utilizing well-meaning volunteers has effectively become what many of us will consider the biggest thorn in our sides. This is a long read, so get comfortable.

Facebook – social media in general, really – is responsible for the lives of thousands of animals that would have never made it out of the shelter alive. Suddenly, low-budget shelters with no ability to share photos and information of the dogs in their facilities gained a free platform to spread the word about their strays and adoptables. Animals started finding rescues and adopters from all over, just because somebody saw their picture on Facebook and decided to help. Groups were formed for transport coordination, breed rescues, etc. and folks really jumped on the bandwagon to help the animals. I mean really jumped on the bandwagon.

I know I’m looking a gift horse in the mouth. Facebook is wonderful; Facebook users, not always so. What was once such a blessing has turned into chaos and frustration. Many rescuers, myself included, have started avoiding social media altogether due to the pandemonium it creates.

At one point (I’ve worked very hard to rectify this situation), you could look at my personal Facebook page and legitimately think I was a dog. There were no pictures of me – just dogs! Dogs, dogs, dogs! Not even my dogs, but dogs of every make and model all across the country that somebody, somewhere thought I needed to be aware of. Fortunately for me, I do have a social life and employers, and I would rather them see pretty little ol’ me on my Facebook, not some hound dog in Florida.

I digress… There is a right and a wrong way to use social media for the benefit of everyone – rescues and dogs alike. Unfortunately, many people have come to see social media as a way to feel needed and important. They have a purpose in life, even if it’s just sitting on their couch tagging everyone in kingdom come in a shelter dog’s picture. That, my friends, is the wrong way. And below, I have explained this in more detail, as well as things you can do to actually help your local shelter dogs and rescues.

Things You Need To Stop Doing:

1. Crosspost Crosspost Crosspost!

If your Facebook name includes “Crossposter” or “Xposter” or anything similar, don’t request to be my friend. I’m going to deny it. Why? Because I really don’t want to get fifty notifications a day from you, tagging my name on pictures and sharing dogs on my wall. That’s my Facebook page! For me! Plus, chances are, I already know about the dog if it’s the type of dog I rescue. It’s probably been emailed to me five times by 10 a.m., the shelter has probably already called me themselves to ask for my help, and I do check all the shelter pages myself.

Another issue I have with rampant crossposting – it scatters the information to the wind. Every thread has a different set of comments and nobody ever checks the original thread for updates. I’ve all but ceased posting updates on dogs on Facebook because nobody pays attention. Also – if I’m rescuing a dog, letting everyone know the status on Facebook is not my first priority. Believe it or not, coordinating with the shelter and local volunteers personally is my priority. And my guess is, any other serious rescuer trying to help that dog is probably doing the exact same thing, so they don’t need to see it on Facebook either.

Crossposting these days does little more than create absolute hysteria surrounding shelter animals. It feeds off the over-emotional users who aren’t checking the facts before posting, and frankly it’s making our lives (rescuers and shelter workers) more difficult. Panic does not solve problems, coordination and action does.

2. “I wish I could help, but…”

Stop, stop, stop. STOP. If you can’t help, cool. We get it. But there is absolutely no point in posting, “I wish I could help, but I’m 1,000 miles away,” or “I wish I could help, but I have five dogs already.” If you can’t help, that’s fine, but stop cluttering threads with your sentiment. I can look at a thread for a shelter dog with forty-something comments, and not one single one will actually be offering to help – they’re all just crossposters tagging names and people saying, “Oh my, look at that baby, what an angel, I wish I could help.” You’re just trying to make yourself feel better about not helping, and nobody needs to see that.

Well, those comments sure are helpful.

Similarly, stop finding dogs in shelters that are a five hour’s drive from you, and posting, “I’ll take this baby but I can’t drive.” What a HUGE help you are. Unless that comment is followed by, “But I’ll pay to have the dog boarded and transported to me,” you just need to stay out of it. Frankly, I think that any group who relies on the word of some rando on Facebook committing to adopting a dog and pulls that dog under that assumption is just asking for a world of trouble. I’ve done it once, and lo’ and behold, guess who got stuck with a dog? Mmmhm. Fortunately for that dog, I don’t back out on my commitments and she came into my own rescue program. Not every rescue abides by those same standards, however (and that is a blog for another day).

3. “Someone NEEDS to save this dog!”

This one really, really irritates me. Unless that someone is you, keep your dang mouth shut. Because, at that point, you are taking it upon yourself to place responsibility on others beside yourself, and that, my friend, is a load of B.S. If you’re not willing to get off your butt and do something yourself, don’t you ever expect someone else to do it. That’s about all I have to say about that one… pretty self-explanatory.


Things You Should Do More:

1. Donate

Whether I agree with rescues pulling based on pledges and sponsorship or not, the fact is that many do. Especially with dogs in the South, where heartworm disease is rampant, many rescues can’t afford to take dogs whose vet bills will run in the multiples of hundreds. The adoption fees will never cover the treatment, and that’s a surefire way to run a rescue into the ground – take dogs you can’t afford. However, when dogs get pledges and sponsorships, doors open. That money can go toward vetting and/or transportation (since many northern groups use professional transportation services) and it actually can be the difference to whether or not a dog lives or dies. We all have little things we spend money on that we don’t need – if forgoing that daily latte´ means you can donate twenty bucks a week to getting shelter dogs out and to rescue, why wouldn’t you?

2. Get Off Your Butt

Seriously. Get off your butt and out from behind the computer. FOSTER. It’s not that hard, really – I promise. Even if you’re just a temporary foster that holds animals for transport, you’re saving two lives – the animal you’re taking home and the animal filling its space at the shelter. Most rescues cover all expenses for fosters, and anything they don’t cover is tax-deductible. You’ve all seen that meme that floats around Facebook with the cute dog that says, “I’m Alive – Because I Had A Foster Home.” It’s as simple as that. Fostering saves lives, more than anything else.

If you genuinely cannot foster, there are still other ways to help. Drive for transports, evaluate dogs in your local animal shelter, or take pictures of their available animals. Become a general volunteer for the rescue of your choice and call references, help with data entry, do home visits, help at local events. The folks who run rescues have jobs, lives, families, and a million things to do that actually have nothing to do with rescue, on top of what rescue responsibilities they have. You have no idea how wonderfully helpful it is to have somebody help us with the little things.

3. Utilize your skills/time

Finally, we all have skills. A lot of rescues could really benefit from those skills. If you’re good with a computer, web design, graphic design, etc., offer to help build a rescue’s website or design a snazzy logo for them. I am sooo lucky that I have both a graphic and a web designer on my board, and because of them my rescue’s stuff looks pretty bomb-ass, if I may be so bold. Not all rescues are that lucky, however, and they definitely don’t have the budget to pay someone to do it. If you’re a good photographer with a decent camera, offer to take pictures of foster dogs or dogs in shelters. A picture is worth a thousand words, we know, and it’s proven than better pictures get animals adopted faster.

Your skills could really be used for just about anything. If you’re an accountant or a bookkeeper, offer to help with records. If you like to sew, make collars or beds that can be donated to shelter dogs or sold at events. Two of my volunteers make tutus in their spare time for us to sell – TUTUS! The list goes on!

tl;dr – Social media is not your platform for affirming self-worth in the rescue world. If you really want to help, do something more constructive than creating mass hysteria and begging for 11th hour rescue.


121 thoughts on “The Love/Hate Relationship of Social Media and Rescue

  1. Karen Bowden May 15, 2014 / 3:19 pm

    Oh I could kiss you on the face for this post. Facebook, once exciting for me because it got me into the big wide world of rescue, has now been ruined for me for the very reasons you listed. And I have lost numerous “friends” from asking them not to tag me on every dog we see. Our rescue doesn’t even have foster homes, which makes the pressure on me even greater, since we personally take in every dog that comes into our rescue. The pressure of being tagged on dogs and not being able to help is enormous, not to mention that I would like to see things in my news feed like my cousin’s new baby or a friend’s serious health issue, all of which are hidden by all of the needless BS that I am forced to view. Just last week, I couldn’t hold my tongue (it happens more and more lately) and when I saw a comment on a shelter thread saying “Looks like a (insert breed here). They are really wonderful dogs. Have you shared to (insert breed here) rescue groups?” I had to respond and tell them, “You know, in the amount of time it took you to type all of that, asking someone else to help, you could have simply shared the dog to the rescue groups yourself. We need more people who will DO and less who will WANT.” I hate this passive rescue community on Facebook. They actually impede progress more than they help it.

    • Kim Rockshaw May 18, 2014 / 7:19 pm

      Heather, A very well written, informative and very true commentary. I totally agree with you about the passive FB people who are always telling the real rescuers what to do. OOOH, I get so pissed. About 3 weeks ago, I saw a thread from a rescue group trying top pull a litter of kittens from either a high kill shelter or some bad situation. There was actually one person who wrote, 3x within 24 hours, on the thread, “YOU must save these kittens! Save the kittens!”. I was not my thread or original post, but oh how I wanted to write to this person and say “How will you help?” Can you donate? Can you foster? How many animals do you have in your home?” The other big pet peeve I have is people who get on the sites and question what the rescue person is doing without every bothering to learn about the rescue group/person. I have a sanctuary for special needs cats. For the most part they are uncaged, but at times I do have to put one or two in a cage due to health reasons, need to medicate a feral cat, or when they first come in (for evaluation of both health and temperament). One person who apparently is local and says she supports our group (by putting money into our box at the local pet store. .. never more than a $5 bill in there). . . well this person reads about a cat being in a cage and wigs out. Didn’t read the whole email thread about why the cat was in the cage! Then another post, she questions who are vet is? It’s on my website .. big article about my great vet. OY. These people are like back seat drivers!
      Thanks for this great article. . .. I will share.

      • Denise Ricketts July 7, 2014 / 1:58 am

        Well, a LOT of face book “Rescuers are “REAL’ rescuers.
        The person i cross post with in Australia pledges all over and PAYS, works as a vet tech and a farrier plus has rescue pets. Another has two rescue dogs she supports despite being disabled herself. I used to have up to 26 (That’s TWENTY SIX) dogs, including foster puppies. But then again, I used to be in better health, owned property in the country and had a half acre fenced in plus enough room to kennel in my attached and temperature controlled garage. Life is not so kind to me now. I STILL have 3 rescue dogs. Two are over 100 pounds. The third is a 50 pound pit mix with severe separation anxiety. So, my pledging, paying and posting (and I have to limit how many animal I post because there IS a numbness factor in exposure there if you post too many) are what I do.
        My butt is fine, thank you. Please set your privacy settings accordingly if you don’t want to see a post.
        And don’t run a breed specific rescue if you never want to get tagged or e-mailed or posted to. People will DO that. NOBODY knows for CERTAIN that you ALREADY know about This Particuliar animal. We do NOT know that the shelter called you. MY local shelter is so full just adopting, feeding and cleaning is what they get done. Looking up breed specific rescues and CALLING? They have actually ASKED if people can do that FOR them! HELLOO! So, Yes that part is holier-than-thou. You may miss a “Lab”, “Husky” or “Malamute” because we NOW “Know” that, Via ESP, you “already know” and you DON’T want “tagged”, “e-mailed” or “called”, You’re way too busy already “knowing”.

  2. Carol Schriner May 15, 2014 / 3:22 pm

    Thank you! Many of us who get off our butts and work as volunteers at shelters have the same pet peeves. Now I have to rest up from cleaning a couple of the big catteries at my local shelter. Nothing like cat turds first thing in the morning!

  3. Morgan Jethro May 15, 2014 / 4:27 pm

    When I read your blog, it’s like reading my own thoughts, just put more eloquently and more effectively than I can. Love it. Keep it up!

  4. Sarah | For the Love of Chow May 15, 2014 / 6:33 pm

    I just found your blog a few weeks ago and I love it! This post is no exception. I now just simply work directly with the rescues I support, ignoring facebook completely except to share a useful post like this, to get my non-rescue contacts excited and interested in helping homeless pets. Well stated!

  5. Lisa Mac May 15, 2014 / 10:22 pm

    I recently filled out a volunteer app for our local animal shelter,,,, the response I received back was,, ok great,, thanks,, now jump on our FB page and help us “network”,,, really? Not quite what I had in mind,,,

  6. Melissa DeForest Katzenberger May 15, 2014 / 10:35 pm

    Oh my gosh YES!!! EXACTLY!!! As a one woman show of a small southern rescue in NC I applaud this blog wholeheartedly. I have 17 dogs at my house right now and NO ONE is willing to foster even one dog so that I’m not constantly feeling like I’m about to explode from the stress and simply being overwhelmed. Even with my wonderful and supportive husband it’s still a lot for anyone to handle. I have had a couple of wonderful ladies stop by to help out at the house a couple of times and YES that is so appreciated, but I desperately need to get a few of these fosters into much better foster situations so they can really learn how to be part of a family instead of spending time in a kennel. I never intended to take on so many and I have had to turn people down when they have asked for my help, but when someone knocks on my door with two mixed breed (fixed thank goodness) adult dogs and says if I don’t take them they’re going to the shelter I cannot help but figure out how to make it work.

    You are absolutely spot on. Well said, and thank you for saying it! Someone definitely needed to do just that.

  7. Gail Chadwick May 15, 2014 / 11:13 pm

    So well said. I applaud both the content and style of your blog post. Our breed specific rescue has a facebook page (as many do) and we try like heck to keep the endless posts of the “rescuers” who are stuck behind their computer off of it. Before there was Facebook to annoy us and suck up precious time, there were the endless mass emails from (I suppose) well-meaning people who provided a daily email flood of messages, mostly about the same dogs we were already tracking and busting our butts to save. We happen to be a breed-specific rescue so we get the additional harassment from people who couldn’t tell a border collie from a boston terrier, but decide to tell US when a dog in a photo (in their uninformed opinion) is certainly “border collie enough” for us not to allow it to die. I have tried to be respectful and proactive and occasionally asked some of these people to take me off their lists, and I am criticized and harangued for it. They tell me I just don’t want to save lives. No…what I want is to avoid 100 plus emails a day, mostly about the same dogs that my rescue has already evaluated and we are either working feverishly on taking them in, or we have decided we can’t. We don’t need anyone second guessing those decisions. We take lots of mixes, but we know when a dog isn’t “border collie enough” and will get stuck in our foster system forever, possibly costing the lives of numbers of border collies that we could save if we had that foster home available. Well, enough, I can’t say it any better than you already have.

  8. Brian Brunner May 16, 2014 / 9:34 am

    WOW !! All the truthful facts in one concise/clear well explained reason I have stopped following crossposts/reposts, etc. !! Thanks !

  9. Sylvia Bailey May 16, 2014 / 10:33 am

    Thank you! I’ve stopped counting the number of hours spent following up on URGENT Malamutes in shelters, only to find out they actually found a home weeks earlier.

  10. FlipFlopBeotch May 16, 2014 / 11:53 am

    Reblogged this on Twisted Rescue Bitches in Flip Flops and commented:
    This. A thousand times over. Our personal pages are our PERSONAL pages. We share our human-related stuff, with the occasional dog/rescue related post.
    Leave me out of your crossposts, tags and dogs from across the country. We’re working our asses off saving lives in our backyard.

  11. Liz Henderson May 16, 2014 / 12:01 pm

    You have nailed it! Another point to the crossposters – when you flood a rescue person’s wall or tag them in every post, the people who know that rescuer PERSONALLY and want to support their efforts, stop following them. Now you have actually caused a rescuer to lose a supporter, donor, or potential foster home or adopter because you don’t want to take the effort to build your own support network. If all you can do it sit at a computer and send emails or messages, then solicit donations for a rescue. Then they will be able to help more animals.

  12. Jessica Rosman May 16, 2014 / 12:36 pm

    Excellent post! Since I’m no longer able to foster I offer free training for rescue groups and owners who would otherwise surrender their dogs.

    I’m also in NC, Gaston County, it has been really hard to find foster homes lately. So many are too quick to give up on a dog. One incident of dumpster diving and they’re out. 😦

  13. Laura Hedgecock May 16, 2014 / 1:21 pm

    The “clutter” on your threads come by way of people who care deeply about your dogs and are sharing –and spreading the word. Not sure “butt out if you’re not donating” is a productive stance for a non-profit to take.
    It almost seems like you need a different mechanism. Social Media is meant for personal interaction and your goals are to simply push information. When you post of social media, it’s an understandable misinterpretation. That’s the way most people use facebook. Perhaps you could develop a master email list for pushing out notices that wouldn’t generate what you consider “unhelpful” (but let’s face it, you need a caring public) input.

    • Carlyn Nugent May 20, 2014 / 10:31 am

      Sharing dogs posted by a rescue or shelter you support to network them to potential fosters or adopters is very helpful. Our rescue encourages people to share our dogs to personal pages, just in case they have a friend who might see that pic and be motivated to jump in and help (i.e., adopt, foster, donate, volunteer). But, there is a different sort of crossposting, the sort of which she writes. When folks share every dog–near and far–to rescuers’ pages and/or tag as many rescues/rescuers as they can in the photo and comments combined, it becomes overwhelming and fairly useless. I’m with an all-breed rescue in Kentucky, a southern state with a high kill rate. We don’t bring dogs from out-of-state (well, occasionally southern Indiana due to proximity) because we have more than enough dogs facing death in the local/regional shelters here and aren’t even able to get them all out in time. What good does it do to tag me in a photo of a dog in Georgia or California (almost always a pit–like we don’t have enough in need and should start importing them) that I can’t possibly help?

      There definitely is a “right” way to share dogs in need, to get them seen by a public that might be able to help, and it is totally awesome and helpful. In addition, someone who sets up a page just to share dogs from a specific area or of a certain breed so that interested people can go there and find the information is doing it “right.” I love a particular breed, I want to help dogs of that breed when I can, and I go to pages and groups for rescue of that breed. It’s great to be able to find them in one central location.

      You are correct that people will share or push info whatever info out that they choose. But, when someone starts tagging rescuers or posting to their personal pages they make us unwilling participants in the process, clog feeds with posts of animals we have no resources or ability to help, and–quite honestly–saddle us with additional pressure and guilt we really don’t need. The majority of people who do this aren’t supporters of our shelters and rescues but people who fancy themselves “rescuers,” too, whether the title is warranted or not.

      • Dawn Marie Calo May 20, 2014 / 11:03 am

        It your rescue site is set up as a business vs. a personal page – people can’t tag you. Maybe that would solve a lot of your problems? There are definitely privacy settings to stop people from tagging you … if you want to be in full control of that sort of thing you can designate a “Close” friends list and then only “Close” friends can tag you. Maybe a quick Social Media class might help a lot of rescues to weed out some of the time consuming issues they are facing.

  14. Krista Menzel May 16, 2014 / 1:25 pm

    An unformed version of this article has been spinning around in my head for some time, and I was so thrilled to see it written out so clearly. THANK YOU!

  15. Theresa Louise Lane May 16, 2014 / 1:33 pm

    Great post. I wish you had only added to it the people that go totally psycho on you when you are working on a cause and because something happens outside of your control, they suddenly freak and start getting psycho on you and giving you death threats.

  16. rememberingniko May 16, 2014 / 2:07 pm

    This is great – and so true. If people could just actually help a few times a year, it’d make a big difference. I volunteer in rescue. I foster kitties… interview, do adoption events, home checks, photos, web updates, and admin the FB page. I cannot tell you how often I remove people’s tags for dogs all over the place, with no offer of “hi – i can foster – can you help?” Nope… always someone else’s job to ‘do something’. Anyway… thank you and thank you to all those like you, that endure. 🙂

    • Laura Hedgecock May 18, 2014 / 12:02 pm

      I have to admit I’ve “tagged” a dog, hoping my friend who is the market for a new family member, would apply to adopt him/her. In my mind, I was trying to help the cause and advocating for the pooch.
      I won’t do that anymore.

      • Heather May 18, 2014 / 12:06 pm

        Laura, this article is not geared toward the occasional “taggers” or people who share with folks that can likely help. It’s talking to/about the ones who do absolutely nothing but sit on their computer all day and tell everyone else in the world what they should be rescuing. Unfortunately, those people make everyone else look terrible.

      • Carlyn Nugent May 20, 2014 / 10:36 am

        Tagging a potential foster or adopter is wonderful! I think Heather is only talking about the sort of “internal” over-the-top rescue/rescuer tagging that goes on. I wrote a longer reply to your comment above. I can’t speak for the author, of course, but that is what I immediately thought and wholeheartedly agreed with 🙂

  17. thedoxmomma May 16, 2014 / 9:26 pm

    As the co-chair (and social media maven) for Little Paws Dachshund Rescue – I could just kiss you! Your sentiments are exactly what so many of us are feeling. I couldn’t articulate it better!

  18. Beth Cronk May 16, 2014 / 9:29 pm

    You are exactly the reason people go to dog stores and buy… if even one dog is rescued because of any of the social media it’s one life saved… What a bunch of sanctimonious pompous do gooders. If you don’t want to deal with all these inept wannabe’s don’t post, be anonymous. Those people that aggravate you wonderful rescue types might have just posted to someone who anonymously gave a shelter a great big donation. I know it has happened. And not because of you but in spite of you.
    Having been in the dog business/world for 26 years I have heard of more complaints about exactly this kind of attitude which sends people who want to help over to the dark side… Get over yourself and be thankful for anyone who wants to help.

    • C Hipke June 2, 2014 / 10:04 am

      Honestly Beth, there may be a smidge of overall truth to what you say. HOWEVER, the people she is talking about aren’t adopting, they are not fostering, they are not working for or with a rescue, they are, by and large, NOT helping, because what they are doing is pure and simple spam.

      The “holier than thou” complex that you claim is in this post, that shows up in your comment, is indeed counterproductive. Maybe we could all focus our energies a little more on kindness, compassion, and ignoring things that annoy us. There are at least two sides to each argument. We should probably all try to look at them before pointing the finger, and yes, I am including myself in that.

  19. Susan May 16, 2014 / 10:01 pm

    Reblogged this on Don't Tread on Anyone and commented:
    There are so many ways that you can really make a difference in the life of a rescue dog.

  20. Furry DogMa May 16, 2014 / 10:42 pm

    Reblogged this on the crass menagerie and commented:
    How many times I have I said these very things on Facebook, and been blasted for being “negative”? There are ways to help, and ways to hinder, and so very many people can’t tell the difference. Death-row shelter pets and those in rescue awaiting homes do not understand or care about the good intentions of humans sitting behind computers. They understand actual help.

  21. Furry DogMa May 16, 2014 / 10:44 pm

    How many times I have I said these very things on Facebook, and been blasted for being “negative”? There are ways to help, and ways to hinder, and so very many people can’t tell the difference. Death-row shelter pets and those in rescue awaiting homes do not understand or care about the good intentions of humans sitting behind computers. They understand actual help.

  22. Dawn Marie Calo May 16, 2014 / 10:55 pm

    Yea, a lot of this stuff is true enough … but the POINT of crossposting pages IS to separate personal from Dog. And the … uh .. more experienced also know how to break it down. Maybe is a Florida crossposting page … Maybe is Central Florida Small dogs, etc, etc. Stay away from social media? What NON PROFIT can afford to? The amount of money we raise – sometimes within hours – to pull dogs (and mostly the dogs that have the biggest bills and are/would be the hardest to adopt) is above and beyond anything we could hope to achieve with any paid marketing campaign. I am a shelter dog photographer and often spend extra time washing dogs and then making posters for people to crosspost. Every single dog only has to been seen by ONE right person to save its life. Over the past 2 years as we started really using social media I think the adoption numbers have nearly doubled at OCAS in Central Florida. You cannot deny social media is the BEST thing to happen to shelter pets in America. Period. Your comments about people posting useless comments is about as constructive as those comments really. Putting off anyone from being part of your page is chasing away a potential share … they are your donors, your potential transporters, your potential fosters … why risk offending them over something as silly as a comment? It gets in the way of a thread? Please … the most someone comments the farther that dog is exposed. Isn’t that the point?

    • Laura Hedgecock May 18, 2014 / 12:00 pm

      Agreed. Plus, Facebook algorithms reward posts that have interactions–even “useless” ones. The more comments, the more exposure.

    • Carlyn Nugent May 20, 2014 / 11:55 am

      And, again, I’d say she is probably not talking about designated crossposting pages; the sharing of rescue dogs to personal pages to generate interest in adoption, fostering or donating; or tagging a friend or relative you know is looking to add a new family member. She is talking about those “rescue” people who constantly post and tag, post and tag, post and tag, every dog they run across to every rescue they have ever heard of.

      As you say, a social media class would benefit many…but not just the rescues/rescuers who don’t like this behavior. There is a right way to crosspost and there is a haphazard and unproductive way to crosspost. Same is true with comments. No rescue wants to put off a potential donor, foster, adopter, or volunteer, of course, and if someone shares our rescue’s photo and folks make comments to the original photo, “helpful” or not, that’s awesome. But, when the OTT crossposters get started and you suddenly have 16 threads on 16 different shares 500 comments long on each, it’s unproductive. 99% of the time the actual rescue or shelter that posted the item in the first place never even sees the comments or (if they are actually trying to follow all these shares) is alerted to any legitimate offer of help because it gets lost in the chaos. (Not to mention, after a certain number of comments, FB algorithms also stop sending notifications to those who were following the post.) So, how does that help? Yes, it is true that people can do more with privacy settings and other customizable options, but that doesn’t absolve the folks on the other side who are using social media to, essentially, spam rescue folks.

      • Dawn Marie Calo May 20, 2014 / 12:22 pm

        Well I guess that is in fact the double edged sword … but I saw some breed specific page here in Florida start contacting people personally about these things – new threads, etc because *their* page had a bigger following and they weren’t sharing properly .. and you know what? In a few months the shares on those dogs are down by more than half … and right now the shelter has low traffic (ok so this surely isn’t a big part of that but I bet it has SOMETHING to do with having a smaller audience), and their pledges are next to nothing (THAT has to do with less sharing for sure!)… because somewhere in there and we may never know where, they cut off some serious traffic. All I’m saying is you have to take the good with the bad … and maybe there is a “local” fix to educating people … but boy oh boy you better do with a super kind tone and I personally didn’t get a kind tone from this blog post. It seems more like scolding and we all know you catch more bees with honey 😉

  23. Samantha Rose May 16, 2014 / 11:35 pm

    Excellent article – well written and very true.

  24. Readthroughs and Randoms May 17, 2014 / 12:45 am

    I remember making some of those mistakes when I first discovered FaceBook rescue networking… namely the “I wish I could, but…” one. Because seriously, even on animals halfway across the world, some little part of me does get touched by their stories and wants to help. I have done, and still do when I can– pledge and pay up to the rescues who save them though. (It’s funny getting thankyou cards in the mail from New York, or charity event invites from them when I live in Melbourne!)

    What FB rescue HAS done, though, is make me aware of the issues of rescue and the No Kill movement, and got me involved locally. It’s made me learn about our shelter system here and advocate for change, and share information with others locally who would have otherwise not known about the truth. I now foster cats and help rehab ferals: when a feral kitten started showing up in my yard, I took her in and got onto a rescue group rather than doing what I would have previously, which was taking her to the shelter where in all likelihood, she would have been killed. (She and her babies– yes, she was pregnant– are now in their forever homes.)

    Most of our shelters in my area don’t use FaceBook as a way of notifying people about death row pets– they prefer them to be faceless statistics in most cases (Blacktown Pound in NSW being an exception here) so I can see how people wish they could help from miles away. But if you CAN’T help practically– pledge and donate! And take some in if you have the space and ability to provide for them. Rescues ALWAYS need more fosters, and the more fosters on their books, the more animals they can save.

  25. Rachelle Pachtman May 17, 2014 / 3:09 am

    Thank you so much for a much needed and brilliant post. This should be re-posted regularly to educate people about your work. Fostering is such a good thing for so many reasons, especially for people who cannot commit to adoption for various reasons but want to help save lives. I have three of my own rescued animals and visit two hospitals with my trained therapy dog. I foster when I can around work and travel. It’s the biggest bang “for the buck” you can get because as you mention, you are saving two lives and it’s a short term commitment. Probably wrong of me but my pet peeve is “praying for you.” Prayers are fine but fostering, donating $5, socializing dogs and cats at the shelter, bathing a dog who is sprung from the shelter, tabling at rescue events and everything else you mentioned make it possible for rescuers like you to do the real work that save lives. I do need clarification on one thing: Does this mean we should not share posts of dogs or that we should only share to raise money for their care? One other point, why do rescuers post those heart-ripping posts about dogs on death row with such short notice that it leaves no time in which to do anything? That’s contributes to hysteria. Thank you for all that you do I do see a real consciousness building about no-kill alternatives and it seems that more people are beginning to do their share. You restore my faith in humanity.

  26. Ash May 17, 2014 / 9:24 am

    This problem is easily solvable if rescues could do a few things:

    1) Create a plan of action. It relies on being highly targeted. It’s why rescues create mission statements – to keep them on task. If their mission is to save every dog, they’ll fail miserably because resources will be scattered. Focus on a specific geographic area or a specific animal control facility and ONLY that facility.

    2) Effectively communicate the goal. What do you need to DO to accomplish it? Is it money? Is it a foster home? Pick one or two and ASK for those things. Social media can be SO effective at raising money for these types of urgent requests but it has to be communicated effectively. Use a crowdsourcing platform like YouCaring so that you have a central place for people to keep up with information and everyone can track the progress of fundraising. It also forces you to set a clear GOAL – “We need $2,000 to rescue THIS dog and we need it in 24 hours. You can donate here. Go!” This type of communication will be far more effective than crossposting pics of dogs on death row.

    3) Always keep it positive. Pleas of desperation only breed more desperation, not to mention grates on people’s emotions, which will eventually lead to burnout. Cheer people on to the goal you’ve set rather than constantly begging for their help. A simple change in the way you communicate these messages can make a world of difference.

    Source: 10 years in marketing and advertising, digital media consultant, Vice President of a successful nonprofit animal rescue, social media expert.

  27. Eddie Nichols May 17, 2014 / 10:08 am

    Thank you for saying the words that many of us in the rescue world have been wanting to say for some time. Cross-posters can really frustrate me and in addition, the others points you touched on were not only spot on, they are situations and people I have encountered over the years. Thank you!

  28. Patty Dadamo May 18, 2014 / 12:56 pm

    All the Facebook comments crap got me to get off my butt and actually go volunteer at my local shelter. Thank you for writing this!

  29. Jill Parisi May 19, 2014 / 9:39 am

    True – A few solid connections are your best resource in placing a pet. Get off your buttocks is the best advice of all! Jill

  30. Dave Strack May 19, 2014 / 11:27 am

    WOW, WOW, and WOW! Trying to help a dog in need is stressful enough without having to plow through hundreds of useless posts to see if the status has changed or if someone needs assistance with the process to adopt or foster.

  31. Mark Bodiford May 19, 2014 / 11:31 am

    Excellent article. My biggest gripe is the unrelenting lip service that pervades every post of a dog needing rescue, fostering, and rehoming. Some of those posts generate hundreds of those useless comments. If everyone of those posting would donate $1, $2, $5…I would be more tolerant of such postings.

    Additionally, I have also personally witnessed, to my disgust, the playing of politics among rescues. One doesn’t like the other and vice versa. What the hell is that all about? Isn’t it supposed to be about the animals instead of acting out petty personal differences among each other? Although I continue to support them, I make it clear that I am not please with the politics they play.

    • Dawn Marie Calo May 19, 2014 / 11:35 am

      Mark, that is like saying “Don’t people become police officers to serve the public” … its a power trip or an ego trip … the money, the attention … there are SOOOOOOOOOOOO many rescues in this for the wrong reasons.

      • Heather May 19, 2014 / 3:39 pm

        By that logic, police officers should only serve the public, and never complain or try to change the situation when members of the public, or other “do-gooders”, impede on their ability to best serve. Just because someone is doing something out of the “goodness” of their heart doesn’t mean they’re actually helping, and it doesn’t make them immune from criticism.

      • Dawn Marie Calo May 19, 2014 / 4:05 pm

        Heather I didn’t mean *every* police officer … obviously … but there is an easy, EASY fix to these complaints. Just don’t use social media. It is a very effective outlet for many, many rescues – but no venue is the perfect fit for everyone. I’ve been involved in rescue and social media to know that some people just don’t get it … and there will ALWAYS be *newbies* joining the scene who won’t know the *rules* so to speak and will post all the things you think they shouldn’t … so you can either complain about these (annoying sometimes, but honestly trivial) side effects or using social media and pretty much accomplish nothing … or pick your battles and spend your time on something that makes a bigger difference. I think these things will always be a problem and there is nothing anyone can do to control the entire populace of social media … so just don’t use it … now instead of complaining about it you can be a little more stress free and spend your time researching what might be more efficient outlets to reach your target audience outside of social media. But for some of us, whining about those people is no different than the whining those people do 🙂 LOL!

  32. Lindsay Gaudet May 19, 2014 / 4:01 pm

    I totally agree with all of the points that you have made… but unfortunately in some areas politics between rescues is rampant and creates an impediment to people becoming involved. I wish I could get involved in rescue transport but most rescues in the area seem to not want anything to do with people who also volunteer for another organization.

  33. Carlyn Nugent May 20, 2014 / 11:33 am

    This reply is for Dawn Marie Calo because I didn’t have the option to reply to her comment directly. To clarify, I mean tagging me, personally, as well as many of my fellow board members and folks with other rescues that I know. Our actual rescue page doesn’t allow tags or wall posts from others, so that’s not a problem for us (though I’ve seen it be an issue for others). I have recently done major housecleaning on my personal page’s friend list, but I do connect with other rescue people there and like to leave it open for tagging. There are people who may want to tag me in something where I can legitimately help–and I may not be able to predict who would do that. I’d hate to stop that from happening just because there are some folks who really abuse the function.

  34. Camille Dunn May 22, 2014 / 6:03 pm

    This article has been on my laptop for over an hour because I had to think if I was sad, confused or just plain angry. I share most posts about older dogs needing homes and foster. I don’t ‘like’ them as there is nothing to like about a dog going crazy in a cage. I don’t make comments because the people the comments are to won’t ever see them. But I share almost all posts, mostly seniors as that is my passion. I do not just sit there on my butt. I donate 50 pound bags of dog food to our two ‘Adoption centers’ I go to yardsales to find blankets. One shelter lets me get free sweaters and coats for homeless dogs. I buy collars of all sizes, dog food and bottled water for homeless peoples dogs. But the thought that my sharing is hurting a dog’s chance for life and a home has just devastated me.I even pay on adoption fees for dogs I won’t be taking home but are starting to go kennel crazy. I am not a rescue, not a member of a rescue, just love dogs. And I feel that you think I’m somehow responsible for a dog not finding a home has made me very sad.

  35. Linda Keehn May 26, 2014 / 1:05 pm

    I love this post. I agree with all of it but my personal pet (pun intended) peeve is the “I would help if” posts. They just make life so much harder. Please guys help if you can if you can’t just get out of the way. Thanks for expressing what so many of us in rescue feel every day.

  36. Ash Ley May 29, 2014 / 8:18 am

    I really disagree with you on crossposting. I work full time in rescue and we wouldn’t be able to pull half the animals we pull if it were not for crossposters. They bring in the pledges and raise enough money for us to take the hard medical cases, the moms with litters, the orphan babies, etc. As you know, it is hard to pull an animal that requires $800 worth of vet care right off the bat if they only have $30 in pledges, and you have to pay the shelter a $100 pull fee! Now turn that $30 in pledges into $1000 because a few dozen people crossposted and brought in donors, and we can now pull the animal and not end up horribly in debt.

    If you don’t want pictures tagged with your personal account, you can easily adjust your privacy settings so that no one can tag you, or so that people can tag you but you have to “review” the tags before any are posted on your facebook page. It’s pretty simple. But crossposting does save lives. I was not involved in rescue at ALL until a few years ago when a friend of mine was tagged in the photo of a little cat at a High kill shelter in Georgia. Prior to that I had never even though about animal shelters- rescuing- etc. We had an elderly dog we had picked up from a newspaper ad featuring an oops litter in the late 1990’s, and a cat who had been stray until she eventually worked his way into our home and hearts. I had tons of free time, started getting involved with our local high kill shelter, and eventually I partnered up with an amazing rescue, and now it is what I do 24/7… fostering, organizing classes on fostering, transporting, adoption events, etc etc. All because a little cat in Georgia.

    I do get frustrated when I see 50 comments on an animal and 30 are “Oh I wish I could help, but..” type comments, but ANY activity on a post helps make it more visible to others in their newsfeed- so it is not a bad thing at all. This is the way Facebook works now. I’d rather have people just make useless comments then pledge money and then never pay it- now THOSE are the people I’d like to have a word with! I am not a fan of the “wish i was closer and I would take him!” comments from someone 2000 miles away, but again, that person’s friend may see that they commented on the animal in their newsfeed and turn around and pledge $50 on him. It happens. I know it does, because random family members of mine will randomly pledge money on animals I am commenting on a lot from time to time. What really drives me insane is when people rant and rave on an animal’s post about no kill and and how the shelter is full of murders and on and on. Of course, I advocate for no kill, but cluttering up an animal’s post with drama is distracting and immature.

    I stumbled upon your blog from a pet food review site. Honestly, I really don’t agree with most of your opinions. It seems to me like you are really burnt out and need a break. I see people like you often and they are not doing anything for our cause. Rescue “cliques” and superiority complexes just drive people away. Some of your points are spot on but your method of delivery is questionable.

  37. Jamie Coughlin May 29, 2014 / 12:58 pm

    Be careful what you wish for. If you don’t like a poster then block them or unfriend them. Yes some people will drive you crazy but life is like that. I agree with someone above, time to take a break if it bothers you THAT much. The problem is you don’t know WHICH share or tag or crosspost is going to save that animal or help someone with a bad situation or get a donation or ten to shelters. Those posts drive me crazy too but I amazingly have developed the ability to just scroll on by them.

  38. Judy Allen May 31, 2014 / 5:57 pm

    Some good points, some not so valid. Quote…from Lisa Smith-Elyea
    “Pets Adviser: what is wrong with cross-posting? I don’t understand how that can be such a big problem. If it were not for cross-posting, I wouldn’t have the dog I do now; I recently found a missing dog, and thanks to cross-posting, the owner was able to get in touch with me. Cross-posting can be a HUGE help in finding missing or lost pets, and in finding homes & fosters for strays. Please explain, thanks.” SO… run away/found dogs ARE seem by their owners and returned home. I too dislike the complainers, folks who have no life except to bitch/complain/criticize. BUT I’ll put up with that and PASS QUICKLY by without a read or a comment if ONE… and I mean if only ONE life is saved.

  39. Judy Allen May 31, 2014 / 6:02 pm

    Second thoughts…. All of us are GROWN UPS, (I think yet sometimes I wonder, hahaha) and are able to make choices. Surely we can read or not read… support or not support… keep or delete… friend or unfriend. I think this author is angry about something and wants more control than she deserves. A control freak????? She does good work and so do MANY others in different ways!

    I REPEAT… if ONE life is saved, and I mean ONE, I’ll put up with making MY own choices as to what is posted and what I read and support.

  40. Joanne Straub June 6, 2014 / 6:21 am

    Beautiful post. Sorting through clutter to see if rescues have been messaged on particular dogs that might suit usually reveals a plethora of “save her now!!!” comments – without even shares. Some copy and paste whole, large paragraphs. When you’re trying to see where a foster offer was, it’s not only annoying – it could actually cost the dog it’s life getting that foster offer lost in the chaos. I don’t mind the crossposters – we’ve found no few fosters through “friend of a friend of a friend” networking that, for example, had us a gem of a foster from another rescue many states away – the foster had moved out our way and was ready, able, and willing to grab a senior elisted guy (who fate smiled on, he had a forever home within days) So the crossposting, even if it’s sharing in Alaska – can yield some surprisingly good results. Overall – I think it’s been a good thing. I wasn’t even aware (and I’ve volunteered here and there since I was 18) that elisted dogs out here were kept in a different section, or what the criteria for listing them as unadoptable was. So I’ve learned a lot, and know others have as well.

  41. Ruthanne Wood June 6, 2014 / 1:09 pm

    So now you’re telling me I’m doing it all wrong – I should not share the posts if they are not in my area? I have contacts all over & I thought I was helping. Sorry – I will not do it anymore.

  42. Kimberly Stinnett June 11, 2014 / 1:56 am


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