The Rescue of River

Social networking saves lives. And I know this because I was there. Well, kind of—I was there virtually and very much in spirit.

This is River’s story. It’s a good story. It’s also a story about a network—a global network of animal advocates, lovers, and rescuers that stretches from North Carolina to Canada to New England and Istanbul. It’s enabler: Facebook.

Duke in NC


River’s story begins with Duke. I found Duke on Facebook. Topaz, Dolly, and Brooke brought me to Duke (these are other happy stories) and the Nash County Animal Shelter in North Carolina. Duke was surrendered to the shelter because his owner died. This made Duke high risk… not only because Nash shelter is high-kill, but owner-surrenders are typically top of the list. Some get heartbreakingly put to sleep as soon as they are dropped off. Duke at least had a chance, but to make his situation more critical, he needed a vet’s immediate attention—he had an open sore on his back and an eye infection.

Duke’s time was up. Friday May 27 at 4pm was his 11th hour. At 8 a.m. I was frantically re-posting his link and profile to lab rescues and pages on Facebook in the hopes that he would catch someone’s kind eye. One of those sites included Save A Lab, a fantastic network plugged into thousands of lab fans—a captive audience for Duke.



Duke was one of 6 dogs due to be put down that day (at least). Animals are put down every day at Nash Center—a small shelter—to make room for the continual incoming onslaught of drop-offs (how can there be so many, I wonder—but that’s another very important story). River, a very loving young mix was also due to be put down.  I was posting and sharing his profile as well.

While I was doing this, there were already discussions happening between those working “on the ground” locally in Nashville, NC. Most of the updates happened in seconds on the Nash County Animal Friends (NCAF; a site started by Carol to try to help the animals in Nashville, N.C. I urge you to check out this group). There was a flurry of activity and a real sense of urgency for the animals. They were identified and their status updated every few minutes. A couple of woman, Christy being one, had agreed to take some animals temporarily if they had a potential offer from a rescue.

While I was reading these posts, I got a message from Viktor from Let’s Adopt Global (LA Global) about Duke’s posting on their page. This group is absolutely mind-blowing. They focus on rescuing, fostering, rehabilitating, transporting (many times across the ocean) and homing handicapped or injured animals (their site needs a “Love” button; you can’t just “Like” this group!). Viktor was interested in Duke. While I was reading his message, Save a Lab posted on Duke’s thread contact information for a woman whose friend was willing to ADOPT Duke!!

There was a lot of talk about Duke on the NCAF site: A woman named Susan posted that Chris was on her way to pick him up.  I messaged the post from Save a Lab to Susan, to pass on to Chris. Her response: “I just called Kimberly and she has a perm home for Duke!!! Chris will be so happy!!!” If it sounds convoluted, that’s because it was! And all of these women, these saviours, were virtual strangers to me.

Figuring that Duke was safe, I returned to my thread with Victor and pitched River’s profile and picture. River was running out of time—and options.

Because he was a healthy male, River was not the perfect candidate for LA Global, as they focus on helping injured and handicapped animals. But they have big hearts at LA Global. And a large, very efficient global network. But Viktor needed 48 hours to coordinate a foster for River. River suddenly had a chance but he needed more time. The shelter would not hold him. I switched back to the NCAF site where conversations were happening at lightning speed. That’s when I saw the post from Chris’ mobile.

“I have Duke.” There it was, at the top of the page. He was out of the shelter.

Duke was safe, but what about River? I jumped into a discussion and asked Christy if she could take River because he could be rescued with more time. She said yes. I switched back into my conversation with Viktor—during which time he had already secured a foster! He gave me a name: Raciel had stepped up and would take care of everything if we could hold River. When I followed up with Christy seconds later, a friend of hers was already on their way to get him.

River was safe!!

Next post on NCAF: Who was left? We focused on these dogs now and managed to get Brandy and Shania out (with help from Alison of The Paws to Care rescue). One of the pups was adopted (Suzy is still there). As far as I know (and it’s hard to get all the facts being up here in Canada), all of the dogs due to be put down on May 27 were rescued.

It’s too overwhelming to put into words how I felt with all these people coming together to save these animals.

A Happy Boy

A Happy Boy!

From Viktor, to Carol, to Christy, to Alison, to Chris, to Raciel (and I have honestly missed a few)—none of these people know each other. Without ever having met River, these people acted together in record time to save his life.

As I write, River is flying to his new foster with LA Global footing the bill for his travel and vetting costs. He’ll be fixed and cleaned up, and then he’ll be up for adoption. I spoke to Christy last night and she told me, in her charming North Carolina drawl, that River was a very happy pup who loved other dogs. While we were talking, he was running in her yard, playing with her dogs, unaware of the fact that he had been given a new beginning. He will make somebody a great pet.

When I think about River running and playing with her dogs, it makes me smile a very big smile.

There will be more on River: Let’s Adopt Global puts together videos of all their rescues, from tenuous start to heartwarming finish. I, for one, can’t wait for his video.



Ellie Mae

RIP Ellie Mae

This post is dedicated to Kendi and Ellie Mae, and all the other dogs, around the world, that are euthanized every day.

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About Elizabeth Chestney-Hanson

With over 15 years of marketing and communications expertise in both for-profit and not-for profit sectors, my experience ranges from providing strategic brand direction for global organizations to developing and implementing fully integrated marketing campaigns. With a strong interest in how social media is impacting marketing today, my objective is to achieve real results for customers by combining traditional marketing programs with innovative and emerging digital technologies, including viral marketing, online community marketing, influencer marketing, and SEO/SEM. I graduated from the University of Waterloo with an MA in Literature and I have taught marketing management at the MBA level at Wilfrid Laurier University. My areas of expertise include integrated marketing communications; content strategy; online campaigns; brand strategy; and social media marketing. Recent projects include the development of a G20 social network for attending media and press and contributions to a technology book entitled, “Managing Content in the Cloud”.
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2 Responses to The Rescue of River

  1. andy howard says:

    loved your article. please forgive my bluntness about gassing. i figure if enough people know about it maybe they will protest and have it done away with;it is terrible way to die. recently nc lawmakers voted down puppy mill laws cause akc and nra anomg other opposed it. so the cycle continues too much production of in-bred dogs that people get rid of at shelter . spay/neauter programs need funding , no-kill shelters and just maybe nc’s shelters will see turn around and not lose money killing good dogs.

  2. Robert says:

    Great post! We need more commentary regarding how social media is helping to save animals. Unfortunately, many municipal shelters still aren’t using facebook and twitter to let people know about the pets they have available. I hope this article will convince more to do so.

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