Sophie inspires Facebook page to help find lost pets
What started out as a small gesture to help find a lost dog has grown into a community working together and reuniting lost pets and owners.
The Help Find Sophie Facebook page was created by Jennifer Oberholtzer March 12, 2012, when she learned that Sophie, a boxer, was missing.
Oberholtzer said Sophie’s owner, Christy Wysock, grew up in Lancaster County and was visiting her mother with her dog.
“Well, accidentally Sophie got away from them and she was now in unfamiliar surroundings,” Oberholtzer said. “They hung up flyers and that is how I got in contact with them. I felt so bad for her and her dog so I created the HFS page to get as many people as I could aware of her being missing in as fast of a time as I could.”
Oberholtzer said the page took off from there with so many people liking and sharing it that the word spread fast and brought the community together quickly.
“There were many strangers that heard the story and went out searching for Sophie as sightings came in to the HFS page,” Oberholtzer said. “Six days later, someone contacted the page and said there was a dog that was dead along 222.”
Oberholtzer said Karen, the owner’s mother, was notified and Oberholtzer called the local police to go out and help her find the dog along Route 222.
“With sad news, it was our dearest Sophie,” Oberholtzer said. “Unfortunately, Christy didn’t get the news she wanted to hear, but she did get closure. Her and her mother were extremely blessed by all the supporting strangers that all came together to help them in their search.”
Christy Wysock posted on the Facebook page that she couldn’t believe the page was started for her lost dog by a stranger with a huge heart. “High five to team Help Find Sophie,” she said.
Oberholtzer said that with the amazing show of support the page received, she decided to keep it up and running to help bring other lost/found animals home.
“We couldn’t change the name of the page because we had over 100 likes when Sophie was found, so in remembrance of Sophie, we kept her spirit alive and this page continues to run with the help of her from above,” she said. “Sophie died but left behind a legacy.”
HFS is celebrating its second anniversary. It is a local site dedicated to Lancaster County that continues to grow, with well over 1,800 likes.
“Because of our main goal here, which is to help reunite both pets and owners, we have become a wonderful and very successful team, working with each other to get the word out by sharing the posts, calling with sightings, taking time out of our busy day to go out and look, etc.,” she said. “Without all our HFS members, we wouldn’t be the HFS Team we are today.”
Christine Cipoletti, a member of the page, said she “liked” the page even though she did not know Sophie or her owner and that she is just a huge animal lover.
“I went out looking for her, praying she’d be found safe,” Cipolettie said. “It broke my heart to hear the outcome for Sophie, but was amazed at how many people have loving hearts and were searching. I am always sharing the lost and found pets and do help search for them.
Cipolette said she has a dog of her own and “I know how heartbroken I would be if he went missing. I just know that Help Find Sophie followers would help me if I needed it and so that is why I want to always do what I can for them. I am so thankful that the person that is in charge of it does such a wonderful job. They should be commended and I appreciate everything they and everyone on Help Find Sophie do.”
Regarding how the page is run, Oberholtzer is the only administrator. She gets messages from people who have lost or found a pet and would like the information posted. She also tells them to contact local police, the SPCA and ORCA to report it.
“If they found a pet, I tell them to take it to a local vet to check to see if it has a microchip, which is a free service,” she said. “For many reasons, most of the animals found do not have collars on with contact info and this is one way to see if they belong to someone. For this exact reason, everyone should have their pet micro-chipped.”
“When sightings come in, I also tell them about renting a live animal trap and put something familiar to the animal inside it,” she said. “I also share posts from local police stations that post on their page that they found an animal such as Southern Regional Police Department of Lancaster County, Ephrata Police Department, West Hempfield Police Department, Manheim Township Police Department and many more.”
She is also constantly updating the page.
“The caring members of our team like to be in the know so I do what I can,” she said. “And we celebrate together as a team when we get an animal and owner reunited once again. When a sighting comes in I also update because some will go out of their way to go look for the missing animal. They will keep their eyes peeled and scan the area as they drive in a known area of a missing animal.”
Oberholtzer said she loves what she does and is kept busy almost daily.
“I do have a huge heart and most of it belongs to the animals,” she said. “All animal lovers know this: A pet isn’t just part of the family, they are family.”
Visit the page and like it at: facebook.com/HelpFindSophie.