The only thing I take seriously is my Freedom. And Bacon.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Warning - Before You Help Find A Missing Dog - You Might Want to Think Twice

“We’re looking for a missing dog, can you help?”

That one plea for help while I was out walking my dog turned into days of searching, using social media to spread the word, and ultimately - some volunteer "expert" telling me she was in charge, I needed to stop helping, she was an expert, and then she called the police and the police called me.


Short story version: Dog with cancer goes missing from a vet cancer center in my community. 3 days after dog is missing, I set up a website that has a name that’s easy to remember ( – with his picture that the Vet sent me and the numbers that I was given (by the vet office). One day later get a long screeching voice mail and  phone call from Susan, who is “in charge” saying she's from Animal Lifeline (not the Vet office) and orders me to take the website down immediately. She is an expert!! And it looks bad for the vet office!  And then a few hours later, I get a call from the police.

Long Story:
On Friday, March 21st, I was walking my dog when a pickup pulled next to me and, of course, at first I thought this might be a kidnapping attempt so I was very cautious (I’ve watched MISSING) .
Frankly, my dog is almost as heavy as I am and unless the people in the pickup truck had a box of hotdogs – there was no way they could lug both my dog and me in the pickup.
The couple in the pickup looked distraught.
They gave me the details: The dog had cancer. Was a Sheltie. Shaved back legs. Tully was it’s name. It had been receiving treatment for cancer at the vet on Butler Ave in Chalfont. Missing since Thursday.  Tully is not from the Bucks County area.
“How did he get lost?” I asked, as curious people do.
The lady hesitated then told me he slipped out of his collar when the vet office had him out for a walk.
Ok, look, shit happens. It has happened to me. Much worse than that. No matter how much you THINK you might be taking all precautions, shit happens. That’s why they are called accidents.
“Who should I call?” I asked the lady in the passenger seat.

When people approach me for help looking for a lost pet – I’m always grateful if they have a business card or flyer, or something I can hold on to so if I do spot their pet, I can notify them.

“Hold on,” the lady said. She wrote something on a slip of paper and handed it to me . It was the phone number for the vet’s office.
As I walked the rest of the way home, I kept my eyes open for Tully.
As soon as I got home, I looked up the website for the vets office; I was sure they would  have posted a picture of Tully and that he was missing: Nothing.
There was no picture on the website or their facebook page. There was a picture on there facebook of some employees in their St.Patricks day festivities, but no picture of Tully.
I called a lady I knew who lived right behind the vet.
“I’m not home, but I saw something about it on Facebook,” she said. "My husband is keeping an eye out for the dog."
So I was then wondering; she had mentioned there was a posting on the missing dog on Facebook.  But where on Facebook? I checked all the local FB places and didn’t see anything.
I called the Vets office and explained I’d love to help – did they have a picture and I’d help spread the word?
They emailed me a picture.  Tully was so cute. My heart was broken for the owners.
 I realized the number the people in the truck gave in case I found Tully, was the Vet office. It was Friday. Would there be someone there to answer the phone at night? I called back.
“If it’s after hours and we find the dog, what number should I call?” I asked.
The employee gave me a cell phone number.
My husband and I then searched the woods behind our house. I talked to our neighbors who lived on the edge of the woods that crossed over to the park. They hadn’t heard about a lost dog. I gave them the information I was given - the same information by 2 different people.
John and I went into the park where I stopped moms’ watching their children practice, couples walking, single people walking. None of them had heard the news. And I saw no posters. No flyers. I wished I had some easy thing for them to remember to look up for info, since I still had no idea where this was posted on facebook.
“Something super easy to remember,” I told John.
When I got home, I tweeted the information. I posted on facebook. I searched and searched facebook until I FINALLY found reference to Tully – it was buried on the Doylestown closed Facebook group page (because people are constantly posting) – and there was yet another different number to call.
You can't share the post, because it's a "closed" group - so I had to create my own facebook post.  
“There has GOT to be an easier way!” I thought.
And that morning, when I woke up, I was still thinking about Tully. And he was still missing.
Then it came to me. Duh! I could set up a website that would have all his info in one place. No searching on facebook like I had done. Easy to remember to tell people when I was out walking.
And so I purchased the domain and set up www.FindTully.Com. I didn’t want any connections to my entertainment persona, so I didn’t link to any of my other websites – didn’t have my name attached to it. It was a simple picture (that I was sent by the Vets office) and the numbers I was given: by the people in the pickup on Thursday, and by the Vets office (twice) and then the third number I was given by this lady proclaiming to be in charge.
After work on Saturday, John, Katie and I took the dogs for a walk. I put up flyers. We walked to the park and I stopped people and told them about the missing dog and to go to and it has his picture and numbers to contact.
And on Saturday (3 days since Tully had gone missing) – there was now a poster in the park.
On Sunday, I get a voicemail from Susan (the lady in charge she claims). I am ecstatic, thinking they found Tully!  And then I listen to the voice mail and it’s not good news – in fact, I’m being ordered to take down my website. And I'm told it looks bad for the vet office to say the dog disappeared from the office,  
I get a message on my facebook from her to take down all the facebook posts!
What? I’d talked with several dog lovers/owners and we had agreed that we’d have everyone we knew searching for-about-ever and  put up posters EVERYwhere. Tully was seen by the park we live by and, until Saturday, we hadn’t seen any flyers/posters.
As I'm listening to her voicemail, she calls me again.
She went on to tell me that “they” knew what they were doing – and I didn’t have permission to use Tully’s picture.
The conversation is long, mostly filled with Susan telling me how much of an expert she is - but basically, this sums it up:
"You can't use that picture of Tully - you don't have permission."
“Ummm, this is the email the Vet's office sent”
“You have the WRONG NUMBERS listed. It should only be ONE number - MY number!”
“These were the numbers the vet office gave me. The third one is your number that I found on your facebook page.”
“Well, I am an expert at this, you are not.”
“If you’re such an expert, how come you didn’t set up your own website for Tully …oh..say…4 days ago when he went missing?”
“It wasn’t 4 days ago! I was 3 and a half! And we did set up a website!”
“Oh, really, what’s it called?”
No Answer.
“What’s the website called that you set up to find Tully?”
No answer.
“Okay,” I finally say, this is, afterall, about finding a missing dog.
Or so, that's what I thought it should be about.   
“Well,” I said, “how about I remove the numbers for the vet office and just leave your number.”
***is this happening? Am I in grade-fucking-school?****
“NO! Take down the website! If we don’t find him today, we will tell you what to write and you can put it up tomorrow! It looks bad for the vet office!”
Over 14 minutes of her blabbing about her expertise- – the more it became apparent the Vet Office was afraid they might look bad. Which would explain why they didn’t announce he was missing on Facebook – and why they wanted my website down.
But man, here’s where I got stuck. I really wanted to help Tully. His owners had not contacted me and asked if I would take it down. No one from the Vets office contacted me. Just this craa-craa Susan. And it seemed to me, if a dog went missing from my business – I don’t care if it was the business’s fault or the dog owners fault, I would have made sure to post it on the vet facebook page for the office. I would be on the Twitter. I would have figured out a plan of action the day he went missing and had everyone at work be on the same page: Stick with one number. On the first day!
Accidents happen, but it’s what you do after they happen that makes a difference. You get your shit together.
I go to work. And when I come home, I have a voicemail from a local police officer. He wants to talk to me about the missing dog.
I can't believe Susan is trying to use the police to intimidate me. Wow, seriously?
When I return the officer's call, he had left for the day.

Sunday night,  someone on Facebook posted that Tully had been hit by a car on 202 and was deceased.
I am super sad for Tully. Super sad for his owners.
I am not sorry that I tried to help find a lost dog. I am sorry that I spent so much time worrying and walking and talking and creating – only to get hit with a pie full of nasty, unprofessional, ego-maniacal  ranting.

To wrap it up: Dog with cancer goes to Vet – Dog goes missing. No one puts dogs information or picture on vets faceook page (Susan tells me they don't know how to do that). Vet emails me pictures for flyers. Gives me a day number and night number. I set up a simple website to help spread the word– and then I get calls from one screaming lady and one very calm police officer.

If my dog had been at ANY business and had fled, as a business, I would hope they would have cared about getting  my dog back no matter how it might reflect on the business!
I would hope they would  have posted on their facebook, created a page specially for him for the people in the community to access quickly and easily.

The first thing I did when I got home after being notified was look on the Vet's facebook page.
The way I was treated by Animal Lifeline and the way VOSRC mishandled the situation, makes me cringe when I see the DONATION button (on both) their websites. Perhaps Susan needs to take her donations and use them to learn how to communicate better with people, and VOSRC should go over how to handle emergencies.

I see this type of thing happening more frequently - "volunteers"- suddenly believe they are  "experts" and then promise they can help you. People, who are in vulnerable situations, defenses down, see a business card and are assured the person is an expert, and they believe.

And trying to use the cops as a method of intimidation - immature.

One has to wonder, if a website for Tully (that took me all of 10 minutes to make) had been created on day one; an easy to remember website name, all info together, easy to communicate when standing in line, or talking to people at the park, or in your office – how much different this story might have ended. But then again, I'm obviously no animal expert like Susan. All I've got is common sense. 

One of the many lessons I learned from this incident:

I'll ask what will happen if my pet goes missing from the vet - will they post it on their FB? What emergency plans do they have in this sort of situation? (I have never, EVER thought to ask that).
 RIP TULLY – you went off to heaven on a cloud of tears made up of people who didn’t know you, but who were trying to reunite you with your family.  Much peace, furry friend.