Have You Seen Fido?

Community news sites reunite pets with their owners

When a pet runs away, it can be hard for a distraught owner to know what to do first. Do you drive around with eyes peeled? Ask neighbors if they’ve seen anything? Canvas the area taping “Lost Pet” flyers to telephone poles?

At the North Carolina hyperlocal news site DavidsonNews.net, the pets section has become the go-to place for informing the community about lost and found pets. The page is a mix of local animal news; adoptions, runaways, picked-up stragglers, and hilarious images from dog shows and the dog park. David Boraks, the founder and editor of the site, says the page is a popular feature, and has a high pet-to-owner reunion rate. “People have come to think of our site as a place to look for this information, and to send it,” says Boraks. “It’s like a community bulletin board.” Town police have even started sending photos and notices of stray pets they pick up to DavidsonNews.net. These animal alerts not only go to the site’s designated pet page, but also on the DavidsonNews.net Twitter account, Facebook page, and in their daily e-mail blasts.

Being the liaison to bringing a beloved, furry family-member home is the kind of community service that isn’t easily forgotten. It really takes the idea of serving readers to a very personal level, and can only enhance a sites goals of being a meeting place for the community. West Seattle Blog has a lost and found pets page, and Tracy Record, co-founder and editor of the site, says when lost and found pet information first started coming in from readers, it got placed on the main page, “in between news and feature stories. But as the number increased, that just didn’t feel right,” wrote Record in an emailed response. Now, with a designated page, they often field multiple lost and found posts every day. If an animal is lost for a few days, the topic of the lost pet “might erupt in our Forums section, with people posting sightings and in some cases even organizing search parties,” writes Record. She noted that some people even check it on a regular basis to know who they should be on the lookout for that day.

Sarah Blaskovich, the editor at Pegasus News in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, says the lost pets page on their site is part of their larger mission to serve their local community with neighborhood news: “We have pet lovers in our company, and we have pet lovers amongst our readers. There seemed to be a big community we could serve there.”

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Alysia Santo is a former assistant editor at CJR. Tags: , , , ,