Starting today, lost pets and their owners in New York City will have a legion of Internet volunteers working to reunite them.
An expanded lost-and-found system using the power of volunteers and online resources is being launched by three animal safety groups.
The program is being sponsored by the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and volunteers from the Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C). Its debut coincides with the beginning of the Fourth of July holiday, which commonly sees a rise in lost pet reports.
When a pet is lost or found () there are already a large number of online resources like craigslist or Facebook where an announcement can be posted, and some areas of the city also have localized pet-finding databases such as fidobrooklyn.com.
But unifying all those listings and cross-referencing descriptions and photos is beyond the powers of computers themselves. A task like that needs a human touch, and that's where the skills of volunteers come in. Working from AC&C offices, their home computers, and even their mobile phone, volunteers will comb the Internet's resources as well as shelter records to bring missing animals back to the humans who love them.
"Volunteers search the sites multiple times each day and follow up on every possible lead," said Melissa Donaldson of the Mayor's Alliance, which put the new system together after budget cuts eliminated the old lost-and-found system.
"If we need more information from a pet owner, we call them. We're doing everything we can to make sure as many lost pets as possible are returned to their families."
If you've lost a pet, found a pet, or wish to volunteer for the project visit the AC&C's lost-and-found page.