The power of social media recently helped a small gray dog named Gizmo find his way home. On Wednesday, February 26th, Ventura County Animal Services (VCAS) received a call from a concerned citizen who reported a scared stray dog wandering around Camarillo’s Sports Park. When VCAS officer Kelli Hipple arrived, she found a small frightened dog running in circles. With clouds gathering overhead, she called for back-up and spent nearly two hours working with fellow VCAS officer Randy Chong to calm and catch the frightened pup.
What happened next was truly amazing. VCAS posted a photo of Officer Hipple holding Gizmo on Facebook and within hours, the post was viewed by more than 11,000 people and shared more than 162 times. Within two hours, a VCAS Facebook fan noticed a resemblance between the dog and a photo posted on the Oxnard Missing Pets Facebook page and two days later, Gizmo was back in the arms of his extremely grateful owners, Nat and Kathy Gaudet.
The Gaudets, long-distance truck drivers from Quebec, Canada, had stopped in Oxnard when Gizmo jumped out of the cab of their truck and ran away. They searched high and low for him but couldn’t locate him. Although they had to leave town for their next stop in Fresno, Nat Gaudet continued to scour the internet for any sign of his fluffy best friend.
Because Gizmo’s story and photo went viral, his story had a happy ending. Upon hearing that Gizmo was found and being cared for the VCAS Adoption Center, the French-speaking Gaudets turned their truck around and raced back to Camarillo. The next day, amid smiles, wagging tails and many “Merci Beacoups,” the Gaudets were reunited with their beloved Gizmo.
Before sending Gizmo on his way, VCAS staff placed a microchip in Gizmo. VCAS encourages all pet owners to microchip their pets so if they become lost, they can be easily identified and their owners can be quickly notified.
“We are grateful to the thousands of VCAS supporters who shared Gizmo’s photo on social media and helped us find his owners,” said Tara Diller, VCAS Director. “Gizmo’s story highlights the power of social media and also shows how it truly takes a village to find loving homes for every homeless animal in our County.”
VCAS is currently participating in the 2014 ASPCA Rachel Ray $100K Challenge, a competition between fifty animal shelters across the country to save the most lives. To help them win, VCAS needs the public's help to expand their presence on social media and to participate in adoption events so they can save more lives than ever before.
As seen by Gizmo, social media can be highly effective at helping owners reunite with lost pets. In addition, social media is an effective tool for promoting homeless animals in desperate need of adoption. The public can support VCAS and meet adoptable animals by following VCAS on Facebook at www.facebook.com/VCAnimalServices and Twitter at twitter.com/VCAnimalService or by becoming a VCAS volunteer.
For more information, visit www.vcas.us.