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JoAnna Lou
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Social Network Finds Lost Dog
A new website connects neighbors online
Nextdoor.com users can post alerts on missing pets and other neighborhood news.

Years ago, it took a runaway cat for me to befriend several of my neighbors who lived down the street. Eventually Izzy was found and I gained some new friends in the process. Unfortunately, it often takes an emergency to get communities to rally together.

As we become more and more dependent on technology, our isolation has only become worse. A recent study found that over 65 percent of adults are on a social networking site, yet 33 percent of Americans don’t know any of their neighbors by name.

Nextdoor.com aims to change all that by connecting neighbors in a secure online forum. This new social networking website lets users log on and start conversations on everything from finding a ladder to borrow to sending an alert about local road construction.  

Naturally, many users have started sharing pet related recommendations, like preferred veterinarians and dog walkers.

Nextdoor.com has also been credited with helping reunite a family in Washington with their lost puppy, Willie. When the small dog ran away last winter, the family posted an alert to their local Nextdoor.com site. Neighbors started reporting sightings and Willie was soon found.

It feels a little artificial to have an online neighborhood, but I can see how communities have to evolve the way they interact to keep up in this age of technology. However, as much as I rely on my smartphone and internet connection, I probably meet the most people in my neighborhood the good old fashioned way—while walking the dogs!

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Screenshot from Nextdoor.com.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Allison Nastoff | May 2 2012 |

I agree that it seems artificial to communicate with neighbors online, although I can see where it would be useful in neighborhoods like mine where houses are spread out. The dog we have now never runs away, but growing up, my family had a german shepherd who would run away occasionally, especially after it had just snowed. It sure would have been nice to have a neighborhood community on a site like nextdoor.com to see if neighbors could provide us with any leads before getting in the car to search our sprawling, suburban neighborhood.

Submitted by Fred | January 17 2013 |

This is a good idea. A rather strange concept to need an online network to communicate with an immediate neighbor but as Allison Nastoff says, it’s a good idea when the neighborhood is quite spread out. To me, as long as it helps people find a lost dog or a cat or a child, then it is a most useful tool. I have known of similar networks where a dog, with no dog collar or leash or anything, gets reunited with her owner just eight hours after an initial posting. I also know of a people, complete strangers, turning up at my doorstep with new puppy supplies for the puppies I just rescued. You see the thing is I foster abandoned and sick puppies regularly and I usually post them up on online networks straightaway to review potential adopters. All in all, I say nextdoor.com can be a perfectly useful tool if people use it wisely. http://www.cooldog-gear.com

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