On June 17, Cameron Nichols' dog, Ritz, went missing from his Tates Creek home. Nichols posted information about the Hungarian Vizsla on Facebook in hopes that neighbors and friends could help in his search.
The post was shared more than 100 times, and Nichols and Ritz were together again in less than 24 hours.
The Facebook page Nichols used was "Lost and Found Pets of Lexington, KY," which has received more than 2,250 likes since its launch on Dec. 31 and brought at least 25 pets home to their owners.
Users can post photos of their missing pets and ask the community to help find them. People also post photos of animals they've found in their neighborhood in efforts to get the pet home.
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Page founder Debbie Wimsatt of Lexington is a stay-at-home mom who has been rescuing animals for the past 20 years.
"I felt as though the animals didn't have a voice," Wimsatt said.
The first dog she ever rescued was a farm dog on the side of the road in Cincinnati during a snowstorm. Wimsatt said she couldn't bear to leave the dog there to die, and ever since, she felt as though God had blessed her so much that she had an obligation to give back.
Wimsatt spends 6 to 7 hours a day updating the page and helping followers understand what will happen to stray animals if they're not claimed. By law, animal control is only required to hold stray dogs for five days and cats for three.
"There is very limited space at the Humane Society, so they are forced to put animals down," Wimsatt said. Wimsatt is an advocate for microchipping pets because it results in a quicker and easier return of pets to their owners. Microchips can be embedded under the skin of animals with contain contact information that can be read by a scanner to help reunite the animal with its owner.
And as a couple dozen people have found, Facebook works too.
"Thank goodness that I have not had to make a lost/missing post for my 'furkids,' but because of this page I know that if I did, that I would know where to turn for help," said Shelly Ross in a posting on the Facebook page.
"The page just isn't about lost and found pets, it's about community coming together," Wimsatt said. "The compassion I see on the page is amazing."
"Even if the page only reunites one dog to its owner, it's done its job," Wimsatt said.
Ritz, as it turns out, is one of many.
"We're glad to have her home," Nichols said with Ritz at his side.
To get to the lost pets page, search for "Lost and Found Pets of Lexington, Ky" at facebook.com.