Finding dogs that FLED their owners in Parksville Qualicum Beach
A new volunteer organization is finding great success reuniting lost dogs and owners on Vancouver Island.
FLED (Find lost and escaped dogs) was started by Jill Oakley in Victoria just over a year ago and — harnessing social media — spread quickly up Island where Errington's Darcy Kydd got involved and is now the regional organizer.
"It's incredible how many people we reach in a short time," Kydd, said touting their use of Facebook, instant messaging and online reporting, but she adds there is a lot of work on the ground by more than 150 active Island volunteers.
"It all starts with the website, someone with a found animal fills in a report, or someone who lost a dog makes a report and we put it on Facebook."
From there thousands of people can see the posts or get various digital alerts. But while they may reach thousands online, it still takes active volunteers to put up posters and call local shelters, veterinarians, SPCAs and even taxi companies — anyone who may have seen a wandering pooch.
When a dog is spotted someone has to physically get hold of the animal and help get it back to the owner.
"Last night we got a report of a lost pug in Campbell River at 9:27 and we found it just before midnight," Kydd said, pointing out that she was helping co-ordinate the search without ever leaving her home in Errington.
Over 3,500 people viewed the postings online and around 25 people were involved in spotting, organizing sightings and catching the dog, Kydd said.
FLED even has humane traps they use along with feeding stations when they know a dog is around but can't be grabbed. Kydd's quick to explain a volunteer sits at a distance and watches the trap. They are never left unattended.
The group works with municipalities and the SPCA who don't have the resources to chase and hold lost pets.
Parksville city councillor Carrie Powell-Davidson is a big supporter since a boxer recently showed up at her door and FLED found the owners by the next morning.
"The more people who know about FLED, the better the chances of lost pups finding their way home," said Powell-Davidson by e-mail. "Not to mention that with all the cutbacks at the SPCA and the limited resources of the city, this kind of service is invaluable for dog control."
Kydd said they are always looking for more volunteers and safe houses for the usually short stays until they can reunite dogs and owners.
There is no pressure, Kydd said, explaining their volunteers are just dog lovers who help when they can.
Visit their website at http://fledsearch.wordpress.com/ (Google "FLED") for more information, to report a lost dog and to volunteer.