It was pushing sundown on a Tuesday and Cindee Lyons had just met a stranger in a parking lot for a dog handoff.
“I have a little schnauzer co-pilot that was found in Bothell that I had to go pick up,” she said by phone. “I will do anything to try to help out a lost dog.”
Lyons is a volunteer admin on the Facebook page “Lost Dogs of Snohomish County (Washington)” that connects dogs with their owners.
It works like this:
“Someone posted they found the dog and we kind of networked and she ended up in my car,” Lyons said. “Through the page we have someone who is going to foster it and now I am going to take it over to her house for the night and hopefully we can find the owner. Someone has already placed a Craigslist ad for it.”
It was only a matter of time before social media went to the dogs.
In a good way, that is.
Posting pictures of lost and found dogs online reaches a wider audience than a photo taped to a utility pole, though that is also done to complement the search. Lyons keeps a stack of wanted posters in her car to hand out and put up. A photo is also posted on the Craigslist’s classifieds to further spread the word and reach people who don’t use social media or this Lost Dogs page.
There are other Facebook sites dedicated to reuniting pets in the Puget Sound area, including a sister page “Lost Cats of Snohomish County” and pages specific to towns and nearby counties. Links to these are listed on the Lost Dogs page that was created two years ago and has about 8,500 members that include pet owners and specialists.
Members must be approved by admins after clicking “Join Group.”
“We make sure it’s not a fake profile,” said Lost Dogs admin Kristi Walker-Everett, 42, a Hallmark Homes real estate agent who has five dogs.
The page has an Amazon wish list for donations such as pet treats, leashes and posterboard. “We do not take cash. We are not a nonprofit,” Walker-Everett said.
The group does not do adoptions, re-homings or interventions.
“We are not rescuers,” Walker-Everett said. “We are a support team to help in any way. We will coordinate search parties and hang signs.”
The Lost Dogs page gets numerous exchanges, comments, shares and new posts daily. Some dogs have been lost for weeks, such as Mr. Marbles, a fluffy little black-and-white mixed breed lost Feb. 7 in Everett. (Herald readers might remember Mr. Marbles in happier times from a story two years ago about his first birthday party at a dog dining cafe in Edmonds with his pooch pals.)
On the Lost Dogs page are real time sightings of dogs found, possibly before their owners realize they are missing. Example of a post, with photo: “Just seen by Echo Lake golf course. Brown collar, looks skinny. Couldn’t catch him. Though I didn’t chase.”
When a dog is found, the first step is to scan the dog for a microchip. Animal shelters and most veterinarians will do this at no charge.
Lost Dogs admins keep in touch with Everett Animal Shelter and other agencies, which also use social media for outreach and to network.
“We monitor those sites,” said Everett Animal Shelter spokeswoman Shannon Johnson. “We communicate back and forth. Their hearts are in the right place and they do good work. They are right on top of things.”
But not everybody is tech savvy or inclined to turn to Facebook, so she advises those with lost or found pets to always check with the shelter to avoid any missed connections.
“The shelter is where people go to look for animals. A lot of people wouldn’t think to look on a social media site,” Johnson said.
“If people lost their animal, they need to get a hold of their local shelter and check to see if their animal is there and fill out lost reports.”
The shelter’s online site also has photos of animals that need homes. “We use social media sites for many different avenues, such as adoption and events,” Johnson said.
Before joining Lost Dogs, Lyons had helped people reunite with their pets on her own, mainly by keeping a sharp eye after seeing posters on poles.
She started jumping in the car for Lost Dogs ventures earlier this year.
“You just kind of get caught up in it after the first couple dogs you find,” said Lyons, 43, who lives in Everett with six chihuahuas and works in the business office at Roy Robinson Subaru in Marysville. “Some people knit. I find dogs. That’s my hobby.”
The schnauzer that became her copilot was found at Thrasher’s Corner in Bothell by a man who contacted the Lost Dogs page.
“We did an exchange in a parking lot,” Lyons said. “You can never be too safe.”
Before taking the dog to the foster pet parent, she cruised the area for poles with lost dogs photos, just in case someone was looking.
As for the schnauzer, it was added to the Happy Endings Album on the Lost Dogs page.
Her name is Penny and she was vacationing here with her owner.
“My mom was visiting from Idaho,” said Bothell resident Leona Benson. “Her dog got out through a hole in the fence, probably chasing a rabbit. I was at work. We looked all over for her dog.”
She was tipped off by a friend who saw the photo on Craigslist posted by Lost Dogs.
Benson contacted Lost Dogs and got a callback from Lyons.
“She called me right away,” said Benson, who then had to prove the dog was hers. “She asked me a bunch of questions and had me send her pictures.”
The schnauzer was back in her mom’s arms within hours after Lyons fetched it from the good samaritan stranger in a parking lot.
“It’s the power of social media,” Benson said. “As my mom said, ‘Craigslist works faster than Amber Alert.’”
The following dogs have all gone missing in Snohomish County. If you see any of them, contact Lost Dogs of Snohomish County on Facebook.
Mr. Marbles has been on the Lost Dogs of Snohomish County Facebook page for a few weeks. He is a 3-year-old long-haired, black-and-white Pomeranian-poodle mix weighing about 12 pounds. Lost since Feb. 7 near Walnut Street and Everett Avenue in Everett, he escaped while being watched at a friend’s house, his owners reported. Mr. Marbles is a friendly dog and loves people. If seen, please call the owner at 425-737-5828.
Lucy, a 7-year-old German shorthaired pointer, was last seen Sept. 2, 2014. A neighbor spotted her breaking out of her yard during a thunderstorm in the Kenmore/Lake Forest Park area. The next day she was seen on the shoulder of I-5 between Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace. Drivers and a State Patrol officer tried to catch her, but she was too fast. On Sept. 9, she was seen around the Lynnwood Transit Center. She hasn’t been seen since.
Storm went missing, and is presumed stolen, on Dec. 23, 2014, from Highway 20 near the SoundView Shopper on Whidbey Island. He is a Doberman pinscher with uncropped ears.
Luke and his partner, Lola, went missing in October 2014 near the164th Street SW exit in Lynnwood. Lola was found hit and killed along I-5 the next day.