(Photo: Jessica Johnson, KTHV)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The statistics are staggering. There are between five and seven million companion animals who enter shelters across the U.S. each year, according to the ASPCA. Only two to three million are placed into homes, leaving the rest to be euthanized.
Thanks to a form of communication hardly even a decade old, Arkansas' number of pets without homes seems to be rapidly changing.
"Social media has given pet adoptions, pet returns, learning from each other from shelter to shelter... It's given us all a much greater opportunity to work together and find homes for those animals," said Rita Cavenaugh with Maumelle Animal Services, which works hand-in-hand with Maumelle Friends of the Animals (MFOA).
MFOA was founded in 1992, but their Facebook community has been growing since 2009. The page describes the group as a non-profit helping animals get a second chance at life.
"We are reaching an average of probably 750 people a day, and most recently I noticed we were able to reach 12,000 people in the last week," said MFOA board member and Facebook administrator April Thomas.
Maumelle clinic uses dog kissing booth, social media to help animals
In the greater Little Rock area alone, THV 11 scrolled through dozens of Facebook pages dedicated to placing animals in forever homes, finding foster care for pets, and exposing communities to the importance of spaying and neutering.
Little Rock Animal Village (LRAV) encompasses and houses Little Rock Animal Services. According to a graph on their website, pet adoptions sky-rocketed after 2007- the year LRAV's Facebook page launched.
"It's just amazing what we have accomplished through Facebook," said Tracy Roark, manager of Little Rock Animal Services.
In 2006, 594 pets were adopted from the organization. That number climbed and climbed and in 2012, 1,466 were adopted. Roark attributes that to social media, and the re-branding Little Rock Animal Services experienced when they opened LRAV.
Success stories like the ones at LRAV are happening throughout the Capital City. Central Arkansas Rescue Effort for Animals (CARE) also attributes some of their success over the last few years to Facebook.
CARE is out to rescue animals by providing medical care and placing animals into forever homes, and even foster homes.
Bonny Gregory is a foster mom to an 11-month-old 45 pound Setter mix named Minnow.
"I saw Minnow on their Facebook page and I thought he was so cute. He was found abandoned, just wild and covered in motor oil," Gregory said. "It was really sad, and I wanted to adopt him, but we're kind of full on animals. I wanted to see what I could do to help. He needed a foster home, and it's been a really rewarding experience."
CARE's new director, Jon Garrison, said Minnow was the organization's 3000th rescue.
At the time of the interview, Garrison was working his 10th day at CARE.
"It's really wonderful, the [Facebook] response of 'Oh, how wonderful, how cute, I hope he finds his home,'" said Garrison. "They'll comment 'Shared,' and they'll share it on their page and it kind of goes viral from there, and that's wonderful."
Social media proves each day to provide a surefire pathway to getting messages across to the masses.
Photo Gallery: THV staffers share photos of their pets
Below you'll find links to these organizations' Facebook pages, as well as many others surrounding Little Rock, where you can see photos, share information, and also learn all the ways you can be a part of helping companion animals who need homes and/or medical attention.
Little Rock Animal Village
Humane Society of Pulaski County
Maumelle Friends of the Animals
CARE for Animals
Conway Animal Welfare Unit
Benton Animal Control & Adoption Center
Bryant Animal Control & Adoption Center
Humane Society of Saline County
Out of the Woods Animal Rescue of Arkansas