14 News Special Report: Death Row Rescue - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

14 News Special Report: Death Row Rescue

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Here's the story of Splash, a very lucky lab.

Splash was on death row at an Evansville animal shelter.

His story is not unique. Three to four million dogs and cats are put to sleep in animal shelters across the country every year. 

It's hard to believe the tail wagging yellow lab was once on death row at an Evansville animal shelter. But Splash would live up to his name and make a splash across Facebook.

A rescue group reposted his picture in hopes of finding him a home as soon as possible. A thousand miles away, a Massachusetts couple fell in love with that picture.

"He was an older dog. That's hard to adopt. We kind of figured that he was not going to have a very good shot at getting adopted," said Janet Belsky, who adopted Splash. 

Janet typed this response on Facebook- "With a name like Splash, he belongs here on the lake. We would love to take him."

Now, Splash isn't the only one who got lucky. Lucky Lab is the name of the rescue group that posted his picture. The founder says social media has saved the lives of hundreds of animals.

"Dog who have just a matter of minutes to survive are able to get pulled from these shelters," said Katherine Martin with Lucky Lab Rescue.

The life saving campaigns aren't only for dogs. There are a number of shelters and pet rescue groups using social media, like Facebook, to spread the word. In fact, it's exploding. Saving the lives of dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets.

"We took a look at a specific group on Twitter called, The Animal League, and we could track it. The numbers of followers they had on Twitter increased 30 percent just in the last three months," social media expert Patrick O'Malley said.

Social media saved Cookie, a dog with three legs. Donations for her medical care came pouring in, and someone living hundreds of miles away adopted Cookie moments before she was going to be put to sleep.

"Social media and Facebook in general has helped us raise a lot of money for dogs we ordinarily wouldn't have the funds to help," Katherine said. 

Rescue groups are even using Facebook and Twitter to arrange transportation for these adopted pets to their forever homes, organizing a transportation from one city, or rest stop to the next.

As for Splash, his happy tail took him across the country to live happily ever after with Janet and Peter.

"I'm so glad we did this. We just love this dog," Janet said.
"The dogs tend to know they've been rescued also. They know they've been saved and they're forever grateful to you," Peter said.

Peter and Janet also adopted another rescue lab. The most popular colors of labs are yellow and chocolate. They tend to be adopted quicker than black labs, who are automatically euthanized by some shelters.

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