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MailTribune.com
  • Facebook group connects animal lovers

    Organizers coordinate re-homing efforts, medical needs, lost-and-found services
  • Nearly a year after starting a Facebook group to help local animal lovers connect, Medford resident Stefanie Whiteman has developed a community resource with more than 3,300 members.
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  • Nearly a year after starting a Facebook group to help local animal lovers connect, Medford resident Stefanie Whiteman has developed a community resource with more than 3,300 members.
    From coordinating goat's-milk supplies for starving puppies and finding the owner of a dog hit by traffic to connecting pet owners with medical resources or trainers who resolve behavioral problems, the site is "all things pet," Whiteman said.
    "It's anything you could need. I started it because I wanted to help people re-home their pets and sell their pet items. I had always done the fostering and watched the lost-and-founds on Craigslist and was always shopping on the Facebook resale site," Whiteman said.
    "I got to thinking, I didn't think there was a pet site, so I just decided I'll open one and see what happens. It seemed like every time I got online it had grown a little bit more. I had no idea it would get as big as it has."
    Whiteman, who now runs the site with help from Applegate resident Carol White, monitors posts between users, promotes local rescue groups and "shares" ads about animals in need of forever homes.
    On any given day, a family losing their home might need to re-home a dog or cat, a pregnant stray might be advertised or someone might be offering a bag of dog food for sale.
    Sometimes users of the site will step up to help find a missing pet or help a community member who is unable to afford vet bills.
    "We work with many other organizations and encourage the shelters to post on our site," Whiteman said. "I run a small in-home rescue, as do many of the members. It's amazing to watch people find someone to take in strays or help relocate families so they can keep their animals," Whiteman said.
    "We try to frequently post all the lost-and-found dogs on Craigslist. The faster the word is spread, the faster we can locate families and help another animal to get home. We just try to use it for good and help wherever we see a chance."
    One of Whiteman's favorite stories involved a six-week-old puppy that had been diagnosed with parvovirus, a highly contagious viral disease, and its owners couldn't afford the extensive treatment required.
    "One of our shelters posted this picture of a pathetic-looking, sickly puppy, and the shelter was going to have to euthanize this little dog," Whiteman said.
    "Our group was able to find him a foster who got him healthy and he was able to be adopted to a good family."
    Teresa Byersdorf, a White City resident, turned to the Rogue Valley Pet Re-homing site when she found herself with a litter of Weimaraner puppies and mother dog that was reluctant to nurse.
    "Weimaraners are known for being bad parents, and I needed a source of goat's milk to supplement the puppies, so I posted on Facebook and traded for some," said Byersdorf.
    Raleigh Smith, a volunteer for a shelter group in Josephine County, said the Facebook group has helped to shorten shelter wait times and proven helpful for community members looking for non-shelter resources.
    "We use her site quite a bit, and we have adopted a lot of dogs out because it really gives us a broader, more of a two-county reach," said Smith.
    White, who joined Whiteman's efforts a few months after it began, said she views the site as "another platform" for would-be pet owners.
    "I believe the site is another way of reaching people who either are looking to add a member to their families or needing to place an animal into a new home — and it's available to them 24-7 so it can be accessed at their need."
    "I just really enjoy when members can come together and unite to help each other. Whether it be to 'like' or 'share' an animal's story or picture, to help it be re-homed or get its photo out because it's lost or found, by them doing this networking, it spreads the story like wildfire."
    Having watched the site grow from 300 members just over six months ago to more than 3,300 Friday, White said she hopes to see the online community help even more animals.
    "The shelters and rescuers do all they can with the limited resources they have, but if we can help get animals placed before they're put into the already stressed shelters ... then it's a benefit," she added.
    To learn more, see www.facebook.com/groups/427210540726369/
    Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.
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