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Shelter Volunteers Use Social Media to Assist in Dog Adoptions

Two volunteers at the Kern County Animal Shelter say they are amazed of the power that social media holds.
Kern County Animal Services (FILE)
Posted at 6:43 PM, Sep 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-14 10:58:00-04

Streets of Bakersfield is a volunteer-ran program that occurs every other Saturday. It's been around since the Fall of 2020, but volunteers with the program say they feel many people aren't aware of their efforts.

So, they’ve taken to social media to get the word out.

Kelci Van Der Horst is one of those volunteers.

She says the inspiration came from her son who wanted to make videos for the dogs and ever since then it's been a mission to get these dogs out of the shelter and into their forever homes.

“When we started the group page, people share all their footage and what they did all they and we have over 1000 members now and that's really helped,” said Van Der Horst. “Some people have seen those posts and have been like, 'ok I’m going to go adopt that dog' and they do so there’s been a lot of success stories.”

Van Der Horst says when she saw the success of their Facebook page, she knew accounts had to be created on other platforms to spread more awareness.

Her Instagram page please-adopt-me-c-a now has more than 700 followers. Van Der Horst says social media has been a game changer for them.

Volunteer Laura Lunsford runs the Instagram page adopt.a.furever.friend and says she too is amazed at how effective the platform has been when it comes to getting dogs adopted.

However, Lunsford also credits the Streets of Bakersfield program.

“Taking videos and and being able to advocate for them. Showing their true personalities helps them get homes at a very larger rate than when they’re scared at the shelter,” said Lunsford.

Both Van Der Horst and Lunsford say they truly enjoy the flexibility that Streets of Bakersfield provides.

Van Der Horst says getting the dogs out of their kennels for a while improves the dogs mental well being but she says the best thing people can do is take pictures of their day with the dog.

“You’re not obligated to take the dog home, adopt the dog, or foster but you can help by sharing your story and your footage with the dog so that that can happen for the dog,” said Van Der Horst.

Van Der Horst says volunteering at the shelter can sometimes be emotionally draining due to not having control over what happens to the dog once you’re done for the day. However, she says looking back at her instagram page and seeing all the dogs that have been adopted gives her the strength to continue.

“Sometimes I’m like oh my gosh you know I helped that happen or you know Laura helped that happen or Denise any of us I don’t know it just gives you a really good sense of purpose," said Van Der Horst.

Lunsford says it’s an overwhelming feeling of joy and accomplishment each time one of her dogs gets adopted and wants the public to know it can be so easy for them to feel the same way.

“Just sharing a dog through social media, the power of social media has extremely opened doors for saving lives of the animals at the shelter,” said Lunsford.

Volunteers say if you want to come help out at the shelter, it can be as easy as walking a dog or cleaning a kennel. Adding, whether its 5 minutes you can spare or 3 hours — it can make a difference. For more information on how to get involved visit Kern County Animal Shelter.

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