Two weeks ago, I spotted a lost dog. She seemed freaked out. Ran away from me and into the woods. I hopped on my neighborhood’s social networking site to send a note.

Lost Dog.jpg

I went to a conference, came home and discovered that the dog was still loose. Thankfully, a neighbor had grabbed the poor girl and put her on a screened-in porch. When I saw the news, I got off email and reached out in real life.

I remember what it was like to volunteer at an animal rescue. It’s lonely. Everyone is sympathetic, but nobody has space. I said, “Thank you for snatching up the dog. I will help you get this dog back to its owners. She has been out for weeks, and you are not in this alone.”

My strategy? Although I posted the dog’s photo online, I also worked the phone. I reached out to local shelters and breed-specific rescue facilities in order to find this dog’s family, and those volunteers were amazing and helpful. They explained the animal rescue process in NC. They also gave me ideas on how to find the owner beyond getting this dog tested for an existing microchip.

I also reached out to friends who have Golden Retrievers and asked them to help me estimate the dog’s age and figure out how we might be able to make her comfortable. This poor dog has been missing for weeks and had dodged cars on a local road. She was nervous and wanted to wander. She wanted to go home.

And my awesome neighbor (who did 100% of the hard work with this dog) didn’t spend all day on the internet, either. She fed and sheltered the dog. She took the dog on walks, too, and one of our other neighbors said, “Hey, I think I know that dog. She lives down the street in an adjacent neighborhood.”

Problem solved. The dog is reunited with the family.

So, yeah, this whole incident is a good reminder that a) no problem is ever solved on the internet and b) just when you think you’ve reached your entire audience, you haven’t.

There is always someone who doesn’t know the story but might have a solution for you. Try harder to reach your target audience.

I also learned two more things.

First of all, I love my pet sitter. She sends me “proof of life” photos every day when I travel. Those time-stamped photos will be required from all future babysitters for the rest of my life.

Finally, if you see a dog, snatch her up. Nobody is going to do anything about it except you. She has been overlooked by hundreds of people. And reuniting a dog with her owners is worth it!