MIAMI (CBS4) – Three to four million dogs and cats are put to sleep in animal shelters across the United States each year.

So now, shelters and rescue groups across the country are using social media to spread the word about pets in need, and the number of people responding is astonishing.

A tail-wagging yellow lab named Splash was once on death row in an animal shelter.

With the clock ticking, the rescue group “A Lucky Lab” posted his picture on its Facebook site in hopes of finding him a home.

One thousand miles away, Peter Christmas and Janet Belsky fell in love with the lab.

“He was an older dog that’s hard to adopt and we kinda figured that he was not going to have a very good shot at getting adopted,” said Janet Belsky.

Janet soon typed this response on the Facebook post: “With a name like Splash he belongs here on the lake. We would love to take him.”

And he’s not the only one.

Lucky Lab Rescue’s founder, Katherine Martin said social media helped save these dogs and hundreds of others.

“Dogs who have just a matter of minutes to survive are able to get pulled from these shelters,” said Martin.

And these life-saving campaigns aren’t only going to the dogs.

A number of shelters and pet rescue groups are also using social media to save cats, horses, cows, piglets, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets.

“We took a look at a specific group on Twitter called the “Animal League” and we could track it and the number of followers they had on Twitter increased 30 percent just in the last three months,” said Social Media Expert Patrick O’Malley.

Sometimes the posts are dire, with actual expiration dates listing the date and time a pet has to be adopted by or the animal will be euthanized.

Social media is also helping save pets with special needs, Like a three legged dog, named Cookie.

Donations for her medical care came pouring in, and someone living hundreds of miles away from the pooch saw a post and adopted Cookie moments before she was going to be put to sleep.

“Social media and Facebook inn general has helped us raise a lot of money for dogs we ordinarily wouldnt have the funds to help,” said Martin.

Rescue groups are using Facebook and Twitter to arrange transport for adopted pets to their fur-ever homes,” said Martin.

As for Splash, his happy tail took him across country to his happily ever after with Janet and Peter.

“I’m so glad we did this,” said Belsky. “We just love this dog.”

“The dogs tend to know they’ve been rescued also. They know they’ve been saved and they’re forever grateful to you,” said Christmas.

The Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals tells us they urge shelters to advertise pets on social media before putting them to sleep.

And that while pets may not be able to talk, they’re definitely finding their voices online.


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