Category Archives: animal rescue

Thank you Facebook for the hurricane updates

One of the main services that I offer my clients is social media coaching and reverse mentoring around social media (and other digital).  I often get asked by my mentees what the point of some of the social media channels is.  Obviously as a patient advocate I have lots of very relevant examples of the value in healthcare but right now I am also able to share another great value add from social … the “marked as safe” functionality.

I think we are all avidly watching the news of hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Jose, as these forces of nature smash into land.  As an active animal rescuer my thoughts go automatically towards all the helpless animals trapped – either because they are strays or because their heartless owners left them to the mercy of the storm (i.e. left them to die).  Through my animal rescue work I have also got to know many other animal advocates across the world, including in the Caribbean and Florida.

Thanks to social media, particularly Facebook, I have been able to find out about their last minute rescue efforts and also follow how they are coping with the hurricane.  Thanks to Facebook’s awesome “marked as safe” feature I can sigh with relief as one by one they log in and let us know they are safe.  One of my Facebook friends has been able to stay in touch throughout the hurricane from her bathroom, as her house slowly got ripped apart around her, all thanks to Facebook.  She actually disabled all the apps (to save on battery) and was using Facebook mobile and text messages to another friend in California who posted on her behalf and this way was able to stay connected for all the hours of horror that she went through.

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Thanks to social media I was also able to follow the dramatic rescue of dogs from a flooded shelter in Texas, while I was in Bali on the beach.  I followed the story unfold as heart-wrenching photos of the flooded shelter with the dogs still stuck in their enclosures emerged.  The shelter owners begged for help on social media – they had been left to fend for themselves as the authorities focused on rescuing humans.  The call went out for people with boats to help and then for help in finding somewhere to house the 70+ animals from the shelter.  And social media responded!  I nearly cried when I saw the post that they had managed to get all the animals out – and this is largely thanks to publicity that social media generated.

One animal rescue friend however remains silent – and I have been checking his Facebook multiple times a day to no avail.  He is in Puerto Rico and is known as the “cat man of Puerto Rico” for all the amazing work he does caring for over 200 stray cats on the island.  His last post was heartbreaking as he had gone out to feed the strays one last time before Irma hit and had no idea when he would be able to get to the cats next and how they would survive the storm.  I am hoping it is simply that he is without power and as a result of the infrastructure damage can’t get online to post but as each day passes my concern for Glen and his cats grows.

And so I keep checking … and cheer myself up while I wait to hear that he is okay by following all the amazing animal rescue stories that are filling my Facebook.  Hopefully next time one of my mentees or workshop attendees asks me about the value of Facebook I can share the “marked as safe” functionality as a great example … including that Glen was able to let us know how he and the cats survived the storm.

Thank you Glen and all of those who battled tireless through this adverse weather to save the animals – you are unsung heroes!

If you’d like to help with the hurricane animal rescue effort check out the HSUS website

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Final words from hell

This week, like thousands other around the world, I have been deeply moved by all the final messages that have been coming out of Aleppo thanks to Twitter.  It really has moved me to tears reading these tweets that have been sent from what must surely feel like hell.  It is heartbreaking to read these tweets that these desperate men, women and children are sending, detailing the horrors of Aleppo and in many cases saying their final farewells.  Through social media we are able to hear their messages, we are able to follow and stay informed about life in this war zone from the civilians trapped inside.

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On the one hand this is truly remarkable – especially given the besieged state of the city and the lack of western journalists in the city.  Through social media we are able to hear first hand about what is happening – not through the words of professional journalists but by normal civilians trapped in the city.  Local self-taught journalists have also been sending out reports, including drone footage of the devastation on the ground.  Social media truly is placing the power of reporting news into the hands of ordinary people.

However there are also downsides.  How totally demoralising and distressing it must to know that people are reading your tweets, your desperate pleas for help, and to know that you are able to tell people about the hell you are experiencing but to receive no help.  To feel so powerless that you resort to sending final farewells out to a big wide world that does not seem to care – that appears to only read but not act.

Similarly as one of those people reading these tweets it is also distressing.  I can only read the tweets but I am totally powerless to do much.  I can sign petitions or contact my MP and demand action but I know that for many of those tweeting from Aleppo any help will come to late.  I also realise that mass global outrage, as seen also through social media, appears to do very little and has not resulted in governments stepping in to stop this slaughter.

I only hope that those sending those tweets find some comfort in knowing that we out here in the world know of their suffering and that we hear their plight, even if we are powerless to do anything.  I also really pray that those who send those final goodbyes will live to share their stories from safety and will be able to share their stories on social media post war, as they rebuild a country totally ripped apart by a brutal, senseless and disgraceful war.

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Finally, being the animal lover that I am I also have to offer a prayer for the “cat man of Aleppo” and all the stray cats he cares for.  Again thanks to social media we have been able to follow the amazing work this ambulance driver has been doing.  With so much human suffering going on we often forget the animals that are also caught in this hell.  They have no voice and no way of sharing their anguish and terror with the wider world.  One very brave man though is there to be their voice and to care for them.  When many fled he stayed to care for all the abandoned and stray cats showing the most incredible bravery.  The pictures that he shares over Twitter also break my heart but there are also some heart-warming ones such as the little girl playing with a kitten that she adopted from him.  What will happen to Alaa and his cats?  I have no idea but I will continue to follow him on Twitter and hope that their story has a happy ending at the end of all this horror.

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#WheresDon?

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The fabulous Hope for Romanian Strays guest blogger Don has vanished!  Can you find help him?  He decided to take a Face-cation (a vacation from Facebook) but we now need him back to help with the charity birthday celebrations!  We need your help to keep an eye out for him and share your photos of Don if you “spot” him – perhaps during your own vacation somewhere – being sure to include #WheresDon and the Hope for Romanian Strays logo in your photo too (#wheresdon).

H2SThis fun little campaign actually has a more serious side to it – we want to raise awareness of the Hope for Romanian Strays brand as the first part of an awareness campaign for our charity.  Hope for Romanian Strays is a small, volunteer run, charity that rescues stray dogs in Romania.  The campaign will be rolled out in a couple of stages, with #WheresDon as the first stage.  This will be just one of the many initiatives we are launching for our 4th birthday, and was in fact inspired but a few complaints from some very active offline supporters who believe very strongly that the use of gamification and humour are totally inappropriate in the serious world of animal rescue.  The fact that many large charity use these techniques successfully appears to be invalid.  They do the most amazing work offline I might add and whilst they do not respect the work I do online I certainly respect the work they do offline.

So do you want to help us find Don and get him back in time to help with our birthday celebrations?  I hope so!  All you have to do is use a tool such as Pizap to photoshop Don  into one of your own photos, such as a holiday snap, also add our logo (very important!) and the text #WheresDon. Once you are happy please share away tagging or mentioning the charity.  If you like you can also use other relevant hashtags like #animalrescue etc.

Or perhaps if you “can’t find Don” you would prefer to photoshop in one of your own Romanian rescues?  That’s fine too as long you include our logo and #WheresDon in the photo!

So please get busy and join the hunt for Don!  Let’s see if we can find him and raise some awareness for Hope for Romanian Strays and at the same show that there is room for other ways of raising awareness and funds and that gamification and humour can in fact have a positive impact for a charity.  Of course if you would rather just donate money to the charity instead that’s great too – the charity paypal is hopeforstrays.paypal@gmail.com!  Just mention #WheresDon when you do so we know that this worked 🙂

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