Brie Calderone was browsing Facebook when she saw a photo of a dog she hadn’t seen in over three years. In the photo, a watery-eyed stray sat behind the bars of a cage in a Philadelphia shelter. She immediately commented on the post; that was her mother’s dog, who had gone missing years earlier.
A few days later, after years apart, Calderone was reunited with the dog who once belonged to her late mother.
This is just one of many reunion stories found online at the Lost and Found Pets, Philadelphia – Powered by ACCT Philly Facebook page, which posts pictures and descriptions of stray and lost pets brought to the ACCT shelter.
Jennifer Berwick, Assistant Director of Operations at ACCT Philly created the page in 2013. Without it, she says reunions like Calderone’s would be much less likely.
“These are amazing stories, and to be reunited with a dog after three years is incredible. It couldn’t have happened without the page,” Berwick said. “It allows for an entirely new way of operating lost pet services.”
Within its first year, Berwick’s page collected approximately 1,000 followers. As of July 2015, nearly 7,500 people follow it. But if Berwick had her way, everyone in the city would already know about Calderone’s story. She says that if more people followed the page, more animals would find their way back home.
“We’re always trying to increase awareness of ACCT’s services. Some people don’t even know we exist,” she said. “We could prevent a lot of heartbreak.”
The page also shares users’ own posts about lost pets, circulating digital images of users’ old fashioned missing flyers in hopes of increasing the number of people who see them.
Unfortunately, not all dogs and cats who find themselves on the page are guaranteed a reunion with their owner. Some never had one to begin with, or were purposely abandoned. ACCT Philly, or the Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia, cares for the area’s homeless, abandoned, and abused animals through control measures and adoptions out of its North Philadelphia shelter.
Despite this family’s happy ending, reunions don’t need to happen at all. ACCT Philly is an advocate and provider of Philadelphia dog licensing, which Berwick says is an important way to prevent pets with homes from staying out of the shelter and being posted on the lost and found page.