Known as the “Amber Alert,” for animals, Fido Alert is helping reunite lost pets with their families in East Contra Costa County. This alert system shows how two women can pull the community together and make a huge difference in the lives of families with missing pets.
Supporting Fido Alert is simple. Visit their Facebook Page, “like” their page, and share their alerts. Fido Alert is a Facebook page that shares lost and found pet information. They do not house any of the animals.
The page serves as an information hub for missing animals and relies on Fido Alert followers sharing the information with other Facebook friends. When Fido Alert receives information about a found or missing pet, they create a printable, shareable alert or poster that can be shared on Facebook user’s pages or printed off and posted on a bulletin board or handed over to vets & the animal shelter for reference.
Candi Akers, from Brentwood and Catriona (Cat) Cottle, of Oakley, are the pet-friendly founders of Fido Alert.
Akers came up with the concept when a friend’s dog went missing and she posted a picture on Facebook. Akers shared the picture and within an hour a friend across town called her and said her friend was posting a picture of a found dog that matched Akers’ photo.
“I was so excited by how it worked that another friend encouraged me to find a way to put my love for animals to use,” says Akers.
She created Fido Alert and decided to use Facebook as a means to quickly assimilate information about missing pets.
A few months into it, Cat Cottle, of Oakley, found a dog and was told by local swap sites about Fido Alert. She contacted Akers with the idea to make the color coded flyers/alerts and offered to help. According to Akers, Cottle took Fido Alert to the next level.
“I thought the concept would catch on, but I had no idea that such a wonderful community would develop,” says Akers. “There are so many dedicated to reuniting Fidos.”
Akers describes what happens to animals that are found. Animals at large are considered property of the state until their owner is located. The state allows people who find lost property i.e. cats & dogs, to hold them for 30 days and make a reasonable effort to locate their owners. After this, they become a sort of ‘guardian’. Otherwise, it is the responsibility of the finder to hand the found animal over to Animal Services.
“With Fido Alert we help prevent that daunting trip to the shelter for some of the found animals and of course keep the shelter from filling up that little bit more,” says Akers. “The more followers we gain, the greater the chance that someone recognizes an animal or a friend of a friend sees the alert & recognizes the animal.”
If you find or have lost a pet, Akers and Cottle ask that you post the pet information on Fido Alert’s Facebook page. They recommend that you check local animal shelters for missing pets, including filling out a report and requesting a walk through. The add that posting adds on Craigslist, putting up signs and talking to neighbors are also helpful steps.
Pet locating services like FindToto.com are a great option as is notifying your vet and the vets in the area. If you find a dog or cat, you should take it to see if it is micro-chipped at a local vet or shelter.
Sharing pet information on Fido Alert is a method of quickly dispersing information. Fido Alert has shared at least 75 Fido direct connects.
“Any time I get to make a phone call and tell someone that their animal has been found and I hear their voice crack and emotions pouring out, it melts my heart and makes me realize that what we do does make a difference,” says Cottle.
Akers and Cottle would like to see more non-pet owners “like” their page.
“They could be the ones who find lost animals and usually don’t know the next steps to take when they find an animal,” says Akers. “We offer advice on where to take an animal to be scanned for a microchip at midnight or the best way to encourage a scared dog to come to you.”
Fido Alert’s average alert is “shared” only 40 to 50 times. “We can’t help but think, what if just half of our 3,300 followers each shared,” says Akers. “The more eyes that are on the page, the greater the chance there is of an animal being recognized and all we really want are happy reunions.”
Akers would like the community to know that she and Cottle are “just two animal loving volunteers who are trying to post the alerts as fast as we can.” There are times neither are near a computer (the alerts can’t be made mobile), and people panic because they can’t see their pictures posted on our wall. “We know time is of the essence and we will get those alerts up as fast as we can,” says Akers.
Fido Alert works because of support from the community. “Without sharing alerts or posting sightings, lost & found, we can’t succeed,” says Akers. “As long as the community continues to share our alerts we will continue to post them.”
Fido Alert plans to have their own I.D. tag in the future and a website for those who don’t use Facebook.
By Amy Schrader
Arts & Entertainment Editor
Email: [email protected]