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Volunteers turn to social media to give shelter dogs a second chance – NBC Los Angeles

Already overcrowded animal shelters are struggling to find space for a growing number of dogs who are surrendered or abandoned by their owners.

Some people say they can’t afford them or they have to move and can’t take them with them.

That sent the shelter’s staff, volunteers and rescue organizations looking for ways to save the animals.

Social media is flooded with their photos and videos. Playful, friendly dogs living in cages on borrowed time.

“I didn’t think I had it in me because I’m very emotional,” said Lisa Arnold, a volunteer at the Baldwin Park animal shelter.

Arnold has been a volunteer at the LA County shelter for eight years, and like many, she wasn’t keen on visiting an animal shelter.

“The first time there I cried when I saw all the dogs in the kennels,” she remembers.

Still, Arnold decided she wanted to help the dogs. So she and her husband kept coming back and eventually joined the volunteer staff at Baldwin Park Animal Shelter.

“We know we can’t save them all, but as long as we have the volunteers there and the staff there to love and care for them, we can make a difference in their lives,” Arnold said.

They come every week to take the dogs out of their kennels and onto the grass, where they can run and play and get lots of attention.

“Even if they don’t end up being adopted or rescued and don’t make it, we give them a lot of love for the time they do spend there. They know their lives matter,” Arnold said.

The volunteers get to know the dogs, learn their personalities, and then share information with potential adopters on social media, connecting them with people who might be uncomfortable visiting a shelter.

“If we can get them out and network them, they can see a dog and then they come to the shelter,” Arnold said.

Social media also helps attract the attention of rescue organizations that can step in and help when a dog is placed on a euthanasia list.

“It’s emotionally taxing. I cry a lot more than I would like,” said Sabrina Somma, founder of K-911 Rescue.

LA County firefighter Sabrina Somma focuses on the dogs most in need. The older, sick or disabled dogs and those who are running out of time.

“Pre-pandemic, we were doing a pretty good job pulling dogs and adopting them out,” Somma said. Things have changed since then, and not for the better.

“Everyone has gone back to work and dogs are being turned in and the dog shelters are almost full and they are overcrowded,” Somma said.

There are dozens of local organizations similar to K-911 Rescue that are eager to help, but getting a dog or cat from a shelter requires a dedicated foster family to care for the animal until it is adopted.

“You hope until the last minute that a foster family will step forward and you can save the dog,” Somma said.

All dogs in the shelter are identified by number, each German Shepherd, Husky, Pit Bull has a unique ID.

And with so many animals in the system, Somma says she’s seen a potential rescue accidentally slaughtered.

“It’s heartbreaking because I’ve done all this work, we’re ready to go and the animal was euthanized because of a mistake,” Somma said.

But that doesn’t stop the staff, volunteers and rescuers from celebrating the victories as the joy of a dog hours away from euthanasia and instead walking out of the shelter.

“They’re just amazing creatures, they’re beautiful creatures and they all deserve a second chance,” said Lisa Lindberg, a volunteer.