Facebook Community Rallies to Find Dog Lost During Storm

As the rain intensified amidst reports of a tornado watch on February 29, Sherill Metz noticed that one of her family’s two dogs had gone missing.

Once she realized that Lola, her family’s three-pound Chorkie, had done more than wander over into a neighbor’s yard from their suburban home outside Huntsville, Alabama, Metz’s first action was not to go knocking on doors or immediately get in her car to start the search. Instead, the mother of two turned immediately to Facebook, which has become a vital resource in the recovery of lost pets, particularly after destructive storms.

“Facebook was the quickest way for me to get the word out that Lola was missing,’’ Metz told TODAY.com. “I was shocked how quickly my post became viral at the local level around here.’’

Metz posted a cute picture of Lola wearing a pink sweater on a Facebook page for local mothers in the community, asking for any information on Lola’s whereabouts. That post was then shared by fellow Facebook users on the pages of a local veterinarian, a nearby television station and a page dedicated to finding pets in the aftermath of the devastating tornadoes in Alabama last year. That page, titled “Animals Lost & Found From the Tornadoes in Alabama on 4/27/11,’’ has more than 32,000 likes and has been a valuable resource since the disaster hit.

“At one point I was just sitting there trying to keep up with the number of comments because it was just filling up my screen,’’ Metz said.

In addition to using traditional methods to find Lola like knocking on neighbors’ doors, enlisting others to help drive around to search for her and creating flyers, Metz also received helpful tips from other lost pet pages on Facebook. One tip included mentioning on the flyer that her dog needs medicine.

“That way if any people are thinking about keeping her, they will see she needs medicine and be more likely to bring her back,’’ Metz said.

Metz soon included a financial reward for the return of Lola after the dog had been missing for several days that caused the family some sleepless nights. Making things more difficult was that Lola was without her collar when she ran away because Metz’s husband had removed it to give the dog a bath, and she did not have a tracking microchip.

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After about four false alarms from people calling to say they thought they might have her dog, Metz received a call five days after her disappearance from the wife of a man who nearly accidentally hit Lola with his car on a major road near the Metz’s home. The couple lived more than 30 miles away from the Metz family but the man works in the area and recognized the dog.

“They said they were watching the newspaper to see if I posted about a lost dog,’’ Metz said. “I never even considered the newspaper. I thought, no one else even reads the newspaper anymore except for my grandma.”

The longer the two spoke about the dog, the more optimistic Metz became.

“She got in contact with me, and the more she talked to me and told me about the dog, I realized it was (Lola),’’ Metz said. “I started crying.’’

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