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Volunteers turn to social media to give shelter dogs second chance

Already overcrowded animal shelters are struggling to find space for a growing number of dogs being surrendered or abandoned by their owners.

Some people say they can’t afford them or they have to move and can’t take them along.

That’s left the shelter staff, volunteers and rescue organizations scrambling to find ways to save the animals.

Social media is flooded with their photos and videos. Playful, friendly dogs living in cages on borrowed time.

“I didn’t think I had it in me because I’m very emotional,” Lisa Arnold, a volunteer at the Baldwin Park animal shelter said. 

Arnold has been an LA County shelter volunteer for eight years and like many, she wasn’t big on visiting an animal shelter.

“The first time there I cried seeing all the dogs in the kennels,” she recalled. 

Still, Arnold decided she wanted to help the dogs. So she and her husband kept coming back and eventually joined the volunteer staff at Baldwin Park animal care center.

“We know we can’t save them all but as long as the volunteers are there, as well as the staff that loves them and gives them care, we can make a difference in their lives,” Arnold said. 

They show up every week to get the dogs out of their kennels and on the grass where they can run and play and get lots of attention.

“Even if they end up not getting adopted or rescued and they don’t make it out, the times that they do spend with us there we give them a lot of love, they know their lives matter,” Arnold said. 

The volunteers get to know the dogs, they learn their personalities and then they share information with potential adopters on social media, connecting with people who might find it uncomfortable to visit a shelter.

“When we can take them out and network them, then they can see a dog and then they will come to the shelter,” Arnold said. 

Social media also helps gets the attention of rescue organizations that might step in and help when a dog is placed on a euthanasia list.

 “It’s emotionally taxing. I cry a lot more than I would like,” Sabrina Somma, founder of K-911 Rescue, said. 

LA County firefighter Sabrina Somma focuses on the dogs most in need. The senior, sick or disabled dogs and the ones running out of time.

“Pre-pandemic we were doing pretty good pulling dogs and getting them adopted,” Somma said. Things have since changed and not for the better.

“Everybody went back to work and dogs are being surrendered and the dog shelters are at capacity, and they are overflowing,” Somma said. 

There are dozens of local organizations similar to K-911 Rescue eager to help, but to pull a dog or cat from a shelter you need a committed foster to care for the animal until it’s adopted.

“You’re hoping right up until the last minute that a foster steps forward and you can save the dog,” Somma said. 

All shelters dogs are identified by number,  every german shepherd, husky, pitbull, has a unique ID.

And with so many animals in the system, Somma says she’s seen a potential rescue euthanized by mistake.

“It’s gut wrenching because I’ve done all this work, we are ready to go pull and the animal got euthanized all over a mistake,” Somma said. 

But that doesn’t stop the shelter staff, volunteers or rescuers from celebrating the victories like the joy of a dog hours away from euthanasia walking out of the shelter instead.

“They are just amazing, they are beautiful creatures and all of them are deserving of a second chance,” Lisa Lindberg, a volunteer, said.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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