Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thank You 2014!




Missouri Lost & Found Paws started as a simple dream for me in 2011.  I wanted to see lost and found animals back where they belong, HOME.  My sister and I have always picked up lost animals.  We couldn’t bear to see them running around loose, and in the potential of harm’s way.  Sometimes, we would find animals and then locate the owner only to find out that the pet was not lost, but rather allowed to roam.  In fact, on Christmas Day this year, I tried to rescue a lost dog from its yard!  It happens *smile*.

In my experience of using social media since the late 2000s, I was stunned by how many animals were in shelters, animal control facilities and in rescue.  I was overwhelmed by the continuous posts that populated my news feed on Facebook.  In 2010 and 2011, I helped a couple of families search for their lost pets.  In some cases, we had a happy reunion.  In one particular case, it was as if the owner’s dog had vanished.  We fully suspect someone found the dog and kept him.  As 2011 continued, I began to think, it is so hard for an owner to search for their pet.  There must be an easier way.  The effort to search anywhere and everywhere by one person, or one family is an overwhelming task.  I saw various different lost and found efforts popping up across Facebook.  I searched to see what we had in Missouri and found we had very few options for help.  So I thought to myself, what if thru social media, we could develop a community of strangers to help one another thru one simple love, a love for animals?  After all, if one of my fur babies were to be lost, I would hope someone would help by getting them off the street and out of harm’s way.

And so, St Louis, Missouri Lost & Found Paws was born.  We have grown at a healthy pace! It is thru this community that we can and HAVE reunited many, many pets!  We now cover the expanded Rolla region.  We will be exploring ways to integrate St Francois County and Jefferson County.  If you are interested in helping Tina Roe, Skydoe Elfrink and I with the daily postings, please contact me for more information on roles/responsibilities in this area.

As you may have noticed, 2014 has been an exciting year for Missouri Lost & Found Paws!  We have been growing at a steady pace throughout this year, which I personally feel is a healthy rate of growth.  Some of our growth factors include:
  • Addition of new moderators on the St Louis, Missouri Lost & Found Paws Facebook group
  • Addition of the new Facebook fan page, Missouri Lost & Found Paws
  • Tracking each pet shared with our organization thru the albums on the Facebook fan page, Missouri Lost & Found Paws
  • Set up and maintenance of a website for Missouri Lost & Found Paws
  • Formalized tips shared through social media
  • Developing and maintaining a positive environment for supporters of:
       o  St Louis, Missouri Lost & Found Paws
       o   Rolla, Missouri Lost & Found Paws
       o   Missouri Lost & Found Paws
  • Sharing posts to Twitter community
  • Gaining community support through many other avenues such as NextDoor, neighborhood Facebook groups
  • Strengthened relationships and networking with local shelters and volunteers at shelters
  • Set up of non-profit status
  • Set up of mailbox to collection donations
  • Introduction and maintenance of a database to track pets shared with Missouri Lost & Found Paws
  • Introduction of Teddy's Wing program for deceased pets who were shared with us as lost pets to assist owners with deceased pet pickup and cremation costs
  • Hosted a booth at the Rolla Strut Your Mutt event
  • Featured on a podcast for The Groomer Next Door
  • A celebration gathering for supporters and volunteers for Missouri Lost & Found Paws to meet and network with one another
  • Donations collection to help other organizations
  • Sharing posts to Pinterest community
  • Hosted a booth at the St Louis Pet Expo to bring awareness
  • Recognition for Facebook moderators by local families whose pets have been reunited thanks to their support
  • Addition of volunteers to support the following initiatives:
  • Developing a database of area veterinary clinics, groomers, pet food stores, pet sitting services, etc.

o   Volunteers to assist with fundraising activities
o   Volunteers to perform data entry of pets shared with Missouri Lost & Found Paws (in progress)
o   Volunteer to assist with posting RIP and Sightings to Craigslist (in progress)

The accomplishments above could not have been possible without the support and collaboration of all of our supporters at Missouri Lost & Found Paws.  Thank you for your contributions, your dedication and your commitment to helping animals in our community.

Missouri Lost & Found Paws has been driven to achieve following goals through the use of social media and other online tools: 
  • Assisting individuals with lost and found pets through education and collaboration
  • Developing a community of strangers who are willing to help one another and their furry companions 
  • Bringing awareness to our communities of lost and found pets

The vision for Missouri Lost & Found Paws has evolved and will continue to evolve.  As I hope that you have come to know me, my dedication remains to reuniting lost and found pets.  Today, the effort that an owner must go through to find their lost pet is an involved process.  As technology continues to grow, the list of steps that an owner must incorporate in their search will continue to evolve.  

As a result, we at Missouri Lost & Found Paws must continue to evolve.  I am constantly planning for the future, and setting up infrastructure and processes to support our continued growth.  Things that we did yesterday might not work in the future to sustain our continued growth.  As a result, we will continue our evolution of change in processes, change in how we track the pets, change in how we communicate with our community of supporters, and so much more.  

This organization is just blessed all around.  We have an amazing team of volunteers who continuously dedicate their personal time to this effort.  To the moderators of our Facebook presence, please accept my most sincere thanks and gratitude for all you do.  I am so proud to work with you.  To the shelter employees and volunteers who have worked with our organization thru the years, thank you for your support.  We are so grateful to have the opportunity to have a positive working relationship that is focused on getting these lost and found animals back home.  And to our supporters, what can I possibly say?  You guys continuously share our postings, you go out of your way to help owners and finders of lost animals with knowledge of how to help them, and you spend your time matching lost and found pets.  I believe an organization is as valuable as its people.  When you put a group of people together, each with his or her own unique strengths, the momentum that builds is unstoppable.  We are pulling together as a community to help the fur babies.  WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

Today, Missouri is sadly known as a leader in one of the states with the most puppy mills.  My hope is to change that perception of Missouri.  I believe strongly that we can achieve a status across America as the leading state that has developed a strong community dedicated to reuniting lost and found pets.  We *will* achieve this through many means which may include partnerships with shelters, partnerships with rescue groups, partnerships with national and local businesses, partnerships with national and local non-profits, etc.  Help us make Missouri known nation-wide as the state that is dedicated to reuniting lost and found pets.  Wouldn’t that be just awesome?

I am so proud of the collaboration of this entire group and its supporting members.  You guys rock!  Wishing you, your loved ones, and all of your pets who may not just have paws, but hooves, wings and more, a very prosperous and safe 2015.  Bring it on 2015!  Let’s make 2015 another incredible year for the animals in our communities!

Thank you for making my dream a reality.

Kind Regards,
Shuma Chaudhuri