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Animal Rescue Goes 21st Century, Sets Tongues, Tweets and Tails A Waggin'

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Rescue pup Mischa (Photo courtesy Megan Westerby)
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By Andreanna Ditton/Special to LAistThe house is a little too cold and quiet, the winter holidays are over, Valentine’s Day looms like a horror movie villain. You’re tired of watching CSI by yourself, you need something to love unconditionally and your kids need to learn responsibility.

It’s clearly time to get a pet. Adoption is the most ethical route so you log into Petfinder.com or Adopt-A-Pet.com. And bam - it’s like online dating all over again. Page after page of sweet, side-eyed cats, dogs, chinchillas, pythons, and ferrets stare at you from poorly lit thumbnails, begging you to bring them home. You start clicking on every listing, eyes watering from the threats of execution looming over the little faces. It’s like the worst aspects of Match.com coupled with a search for a gynecologist in your provider network: too many choices, too many bad options, too many chances to do the wrong thing. You close your browser, no closer to bring a furry bundle of life into your dingy abode.

But don’t worry, the Internet once again proves its worth thanks to a slew of forward thinking rescue agencies with a little social media savvy. Places like the Amanda Foundation, Kitten Rescue, the Best Friends Animal Society, Downtown Dog Rescue, RabbitMatch.org and The Lange Foundation maintain regularly updated Facebook and Twitter pages to let people know what animals are in need of homes and what events are coming up to support adoption efforts.

While no-kill advocacy and rescue organizations provide face-to-face services to Angelenos and the animals who need their largesse, the greater world of blogging and social media allows folks to post pictures, tell heartwarming tales and connect pets and people across geographic boundaries. Blogger Sarah Bunting (Tomato Nation) is well known for being both an advocate for the four-legged, and a pet-matchmaker of sorts. Several cats she’s fostered have found good homes thanks to her loyal readers.

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Social media facilitates the stories behind the fuzzy faces, connecting animals and potential homes in a more intimate way. It’s an unfolding story that offers people the chance to get to know the organization, and the potential pet on a more intimate scale, therefore encouraging trust and an eventual adoption.

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Marlowe (Photo courtesy Megan Westerby)
(I’m a little biased. I found Kitten Rescue through a friend’s Facebook post, and eventually brought home the light and terror of my household. Marlowe is 6 months old, and 100% pure street cat. He’s all cuddles and careening through the house at top speed, haunting the 14-year-old Siamese like bad tuna and making our lives a little better and a little louder every day. He was lovingly fostered by a Kitten Rescue volunteer and I met him in person at a Black Cat Adoption Fair. )Efforts of local agencies are hardly confined to the internet these days, however, and many have innovative ways of generating interest in their charges and causes: Kitten Rescue hosts an annual “Fur Ball.” The Volunteers of the Burbank Animal Shelter hosted a Black Cat-illion in October (black cats and dogs have a much harder time getting adopted out), and The Best Friends Animal Society and The Lange Foundation are throwing an ACatamy Awards party on February 19. Downtown Dog Rescue, which originally started to help homeless dog owners and has developed into a rescue organization for animals on the street, hosts a Downtown Art Show. Other groups hold equally intriguing fashion shows, adoption fairs and other benefits to support hard to place animals such as Pit Bulls, Greyhounds, Dachsunds or senior pets.

Once you’ve chosen an animal, these agencies are thorough and specific. You should also expect a home visit, a looooong application form, and an interview. Adoption fees are not insubstantial, and while they often cover the cost of fixing the animal, providing updated shots and clean bills of health, plus micro-chipping, it can be daunting to think of spending a $100 or more to save an animal’s life.

The necessity for all this is clear. These are all professionals and volunteers committed to placing animals in “furrever” homes, but at times it’s jarring to be interrogated over your lifestyle when you just want to give Pepper a place to play. However, these agencies want to make sure that you know what’s involved in having a pet and that your commitment to the needs of an animal will not be a trifling thing. If your landlord has a “no pets” policy, they will find out. Volunteers frequently foster younger animals, and they know the personalities and needs of their fosters well enough to know if they’re going to make a good match for a family with kids, other pets, or a quiet zone. In the long run, this thoroughness means a better placement and a happier union.

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Even organizations without comprehensive web sites or social media presences list their animals on Petfinder.com or other sites that allow pictures and brief descriptions of personality quirks, habits and needs. It’s surprisingly easy to access the sadly stunning number of homeless animals in the city of LA and it’s surrounding areas. And thanks to the new breed of rescue organization, it’s equally easy to offer up your own heart and home for one of these four-legged friends.