Two years ago, Kingston resident Bentley Potter drove past a leaflet for a lost dog. “I thought that was such an antiquated way of getting the information out,” he says. “It worked when I was a kid — you staple a flyer and hope people reach out to you. But I thought, with Facebook, you could post more information, and reach so many more people, faster.”
Potter started “Lost Pets of the Hudson Valley,” a Facebook page on which folks can post photos and descriptions of their lost pets, or of strays they’ve found. Potter and his team of five animal-loving volunteers update the site daily with information about the lost animals, and — to ease the minds of the concerned and curious public — notifications when furry friends make it home. In just under two years, the page has had 20,000 likes.
“I like to refer to it as an Amber Alert for pets,” Potter says. “Some posts get shared about 100 times, and I’d say about 65 percent of the pets are reunited with their families.”
For the lucky ones, the tales are heartwarming. “A dog named Annie — who was recently adopted by a family in Olivebridge — got out, didn’t know the area, and went missing for about a week and a half,” Potter explains. “There were some sightings posted on the page, so the family camped out in that area, and grilled food to attract her by smell. When the owner woke up, Annie was sitting there.”
Although Potter currently still holds his day job at the family business, Potter Brothers Ski and Snowboard Shops, the page has become successful enough that he’s started a separate Web site, www.LostPetsHV.org, which he plans to expand.
“It started as a hobby and is becoming a job that I love,” he says. “Pets are a part of the family, and when one is missing you feel incomplete and scared. It’s amazing how strangers come together to help families in need. This site is bringing the community together.”