SHARING: Libby Cook-Toppan’s ‘Bermuda Lost & Found Pets’ Facebook page, above, has attracted more than 500 followers in less than two months, to help find lost animals.
Image courtesy of Libby Cook-Toppan.
SHARING: Libby Cook-Toppan’s ‘Bermuda Lost & Found Pets’ Facebook page, above, has attracted more than 500 followers in less than two months, to help find lost animals. Image courtesy of Libby Cook-Toppan.
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A Facebook page set up to reunite lost pets with their owners in Bermuda has attracted more than 500 followers in less than two months.

Already the social media site is helping to find missing animals and return them to their families.

Libby Cook-Toppan, a pet owner who set up the Facebook page, said she believes it has a 50 per cent success rate.

Overwhelmed

And she said the more people who join, the more successful it will become.

Mrs Cook-Toppan, a beverage marketing manager at Dunkley’s Diary and a graphic designer and photographer,  specializes in social media. She manages Facebook pages for various organizations including BFAB (Bermuda Feline Assistance Bureau).

Mrs Cook-Toppan said: “Someone approached us at BFAB about a lost cat but the charity is no longer involved in finding lost pets, so it was a case of, ‘Well, why don’t I do it?’. A friend then encouraged me and so I set up the Facebook page.

“It is purely dedicated to lost and found pets, and it’s been quite amazing just how many people have joined in such a short space of time.

“We’ve had more than 500 people ‘like’ the page in less than two months. I’ve been overwhelmed at the response.”

As of yesterday, the page had 542 ‘likes’, or Facebook followers.

Mrs Cook-Toppan said: “The more people who like the page, the more reach people’s posts will have, and the greater the chance that someone may know something that could reunite a pet with their family.

“The ultimate goal is to have as many ‘likes’ as possible.”

The Facebook page  ‘Bermuda Lost & Found Pets’ was set up on April 2.

“It provides a central connection for residents of Bermuda who have lost or found pets,” said Mrs Cook-Toppan.

“Though the picture on the header depicts a cat and a dog, the page is for any pets. For example, there are currently two lovebirds on the page, one lost and one found.

“Users are encouraged to feel free to post and share information about lost and found pets. You never know who might see the post and recognize the pet.”

Mrs Cook-Toppan also creates mini-posters with a photo and the details of a missing animal, to share on the social media site.

“The mini-posters seem to be more easily shared and therefore get more attention. I did one for a dog which was shared 102 times and seen by 6,341 people, which is incredible,” she said.

Unfortunately D’zoro, whose poster accompanies this article, has not yet been found.

Although ‘Bermuda Lost & Found Pets’ is non-profit, Mrs Cook-Toppan said she hopes to attract sponsors.

“There is Facebook advertising available for the mini-posters about a lost animal. It’s not expensive — for $50, a pet’s poster can be seen by more than 8,000 people.

“Facebook can inform the sponsor of the number of people who have viewed the ad.”

She said there are up to 30,000 registered Facebook users aged over-13 in Bermuda.

“The Facebook page is such a simple way to help people,” she said.

“All you have to do is share a post on your own Facebook page. It will then feed into your news feed and be seen by your friends.

“If I was to share a post appealing for information about a missing pet, I have 800 friends who have a chance of seeing it.”

So far, the Facebook page has helped to reunite six dogs and cats with their owners that Mrs Cook-Toppan has been told about.

She said: “There is probably more who have been found through the page, which I haven’t been told about.

“Whenever I hear about a pet being found I move any mini-posters into the ‘Found — Good News album’. This then shows up automatically wherever the post has been shared, so users can see that the pet has been found.

“I will also hide posts on the Facebook page so people are no longer looking for the animal.”

Mrs Cook-Toppan said: “The feedback from the site has been fantastic. People think it’s a great idea and are really grateful there is a dedicated place to go for lost and found pets.

“I think a lot of people in the commnity care when it comes to missing pets.

“For many people, their pets are family members. Imagine how it would feel to lose a family member?

“Anyone who has ever lost a pet knows how awful it feels. You just feel so helpless.

“I have lost pets in the past and it has been so traumatic. The worst part was not knowing what had happened to them. 

Devastated

“When I was seven-years-old my beloved cat Thomas disappeared (see accompanying photo).

“I was devastated and searched all over my neighbourhood for him for more than a month.

“Eventually my family admitted that a neighbour had found him dead in their garden.

“Although my family thought withholding the information was the best thing to protect me, I remember being upset with them for not telling me the truth and for letting me search for him knowing he was already dead. 

“Seven years ago we lost two silver Maine Coons (long-haired cats) within weeks of each other. We contacted the vets and the SPCA, published ads, and put big banners up all over Paget with their photos on them.

“Sadly one was found dead, but we are grateful to know what happened to him.

“The other one, an un-spayed breeding female (who is microchipped), has never been seen again though.

“We hope that someone has her, though we are so sad that they never came forward with her.”

Mrs Cook-Toppan’s family currently have two dogs, seven cats, 14 cockatiels and 10 chickens.

She said: “Death is an inevitable fact of life. Pets can teach us so much about unconditional love and responsibility, but most importantly, pets can be the greatest teachers about death.

“I am so grateful for the times when I have known what happened to pets I have lost. I have made sure not to keep such information from my son.”

 

See Bermuda Lost & Found Pets on the Facebook website, www.facebook.com

 

SIDEBAR

Advice for pet owners

Microchips

Libby Cook-Toppan says: “Make sure your pet is microchipped. This is essential!

“And be sure that your vet has your updated contact information.

“Please call them and make sure they have at least one contact telephone number to reach you.

“When a cat of ours was run over recently, the SPCA picked his body up, scanned him and found his microchip.

“They then called the vets who were able to identify who he belonged to.

“The SPCA inspector Glyn Roberts was then able to contact me to let me know what had happened.

“As sad as we were to lose Mercury, we were so grateful to know what happened to him and to be able to bury him in our garden.”

Collars

“Though cats tend not to be fans of collars, it is a good idea to make sure that your dog always wears a collar with a name tag and telephone number engraved on it,” says Mrs Cook-Toppan.

Animal Control

Herb T. Marshall of Government’s Animal Control department has said on the Bermuda Lost & Found Pets Facebook page: “Can we also remember if you lose or find a dog to please call Animal Control (on) 239-2327, or after hours (on) 295-0011 and have the police page the warden on duty.

“All legal dogs should be chipped and it is usually very easy for us to find the owners.

“Also if they are wearing their tags (which all dogs should) we are able to look them up in the database and again usually find the owner easily.”