LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — When Ritz disappeared from his Lexington home, owner Cameron Nichols took to a specialized Facebook page, hoping friends and neighbors could help find the Hungarian Vizsla.
After Nichols' post was shared more than 100 times, Ritz the dog returned to his owner less than 24 hours later.
Nichols relied on help from users of a page called "Lost and Found Pets of Lexington, KY."
The page, which has received more than 2,250 likes since its launch on Dec. 31, is the brainchild of Debbie Wimsatt of Lexington, a self-described stay-at-home mom who has been rescuing animals for the last 20 years.
"I felt as though the animals didn't have a voice," Wimsatt said.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported (http://bit.ly/15atZpN ) that the page has resulted in at least 25 pets being reunited with 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.
The first dog Wimsatt 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 advocates for owners embedding microchips containing contact information that can be scanned under the skin of animals. Wimsatt said the practice results in a quicker and easier return of pets to their owners.
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."
"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.