A website started by a Briton, inspired by information from the US, is now helping Indians find their pets — and for abandoned dogs to find a new home
When Ian Jones, a man living in Southampton in United Kingdom, came across the estimation of lost dogs by The American Humane Association, he was flummoxed. This was the provocation for him to launch a website that would one day will become a go-to place for people across the globe to post about a lost or found dog.
“I am a UK senior/ baby boomer and decided I needed something to keep me occupied in old age while at the same time helping others,” says Ian Jones.
Started off as a website in 2013 — FoundLostDogs — was powered as a domain with the help of two Indian coders. Jones got the website re-coded in 2018 to integrate it directly with Facebook and Twitter, and to give wider exposure to entries about a lost or found pet.
Any entry on the site gets updated on Facebook and Twitter in seconds, giving the user maximum exposure to hunt for their pet or look for the right owner of the pet they just found. On Twitter, under the hashtag of FoundLostDogs, one can come across many entries, from a
lost Golden Retriever to a German Shepherd found by someone.
“Most dog owners see their dog as being a member of their family and when they lose their dog, most become emotionally upset,” says Jones as one the motivations for setting up the website.
He says that the website reaches out to “many countries mainly USA but recently more dogs posted from India, which can only be viewed in India. Likewise USA dogs can only be seen by USA audience albeit all dogs are streamed to my FB and Twitter accounts.”
FoundLostDogs has a Facebook page with over 1.2 lakh followers, while the Twitter account is increasing its followers day by day from 16,500 followers.
What else makes the website special? Jones says that “when you enter the location where your dog was lost or a dog was found, in background Google Places generates on my website a latitude and longitude value.” He continues: “Having a latitude and longitude value for a dog location then makes it much easier for anybody to use the free radius search facility on my website.”
In April this year, a family living in Govindpuram in Ghaziabad found a skinny brown German Shephard in the vicinity of their home. The dog’s front leg, as the family observed, was injured and also showing signs of infection.
For some hours, the family tried asking people in the neighbourhood if they’ve lost a dog. They didn’t get any clarity, and the dog remained with them for a few hours, until Aakash Singh, another resident in the area, passed by the family and asked about the dog.
The family told Singh that they found the dog walking on the street and collapsing from time to time. “They told me he was frightened when they found him, maybe because of the other stray dogs in the area,” relates Singh.
Singh thought he should help the family find the rightful owners. The dog remained with them for a few days, he was taken to the veterinarian and was fed properly. He started with taking the dog for a stroll in the nearby areas and asked every passerby whether they know the dog.
“I also thought that if the dog is from a nearby area, then by now he would’ve found his home on his own, they’re smart in that way. But he didn’t so I thought maybe he came from an area which is little far from Govindpuram,” tells Singh.
For the next two days, he continued the search, however he found no success. On the third day, he looked for some solutions on the Internet and came across FoundLostDogs and posted an entry on the website.
Meanwhile, when Singh on a visit to the veterinarian with the dog, a man came running and told Singh that the dog belongs to him.
“I was more than happy that we found the owner. But then he told us we should keep the dog,” recalls Singh. This reply left Singh confused and excited. Singh asked the owner of the dog as to why is he in the clinic, and the owner told Singh that he has many dogs in the home.
Singh then decided to visit the owner’s home, in order to establish whether he is really the owner. The owner agreed to allow the visit. “No cab or auto was willing to go to that place, so me and my friend decided to walk there with the dog. The distance was some 8-9 kilometres.”
After reaching the home, Singh could see many dogs playing in the verandah of the huge home. The owner greeted him and explained that his other dogs threatened the German Shepherd — a statement which Singh found to be true. He understood that the dog could not live in that house any more.
Still, he could not get over the fact that the owners left the dog near a dairy in order to get rid of it. “I found the reason stupid and inhumane. How could they not accept their dog?” asks Singh. He decided to keep the dog with him.
A few days went by, and Singh through WhatsApp groups tried looking for someone who could adopt the dog. Finally, a family in Sanjay Nagar, Ghaziabad gave the dog a new home.
In this whole episode, the website acted as a tool to reach out to people. He received many responses, but not from people claiming to be owners of the dog — they just wanted to adopt it.
In any case, he felt, having a website where one can post a dog’s exact whereabouts and start the hunt to find the right owners is not a bad idea at all. Given how elusive lost dogs become, FoundLostDogs could be used as a powerful tool in the digital age to make a poodle or a Persian cat reach their rightful owners.
Jones, the founder of the website, also says that the website will soon become operational in other major global languages.
“Most people are very grateful for the free service I provide, in particular those who have lost their dogs in the US, India and the UK. It is open to anybody to post a found or a lost dog for free and to use the power of social media to get their message out,” concludes Jones.