SEATTLE - Every year about six million cats and dogs enter shelters, and at least half of the animals are euthanized, according to estimates by the Humane Society of the United States.
Locally, shelters are trying to turn the tide with technology. Places like PAWS of Lynnwood are utilizing Facebook and Twitter.
"We recently hit 10,000 Facebook fans and it's growing everyday," said Valerie Leonard, who runs the social media sites for PAWS.
PAWS Communications Manager Mark Coleman, said Facebook status updates and tweets are bringing more people in to check out the animals.
PAWS started using social media about three years ago. Today they have more than 1,000 Twitter followers and more than 10,000 Facebook fans. From posting photos of animals that need a home to getting updates from people who have just adopted, the interaction has been so positive Coleman said it has changed the way they do business.
"It is two-thirds of what I do now when maybe it was five to ten percent, because it is that important," said Coleman. "If I put something really good - if I put great videos, some great pictures on the web - I am going to find homes for animals."
At several area shelters, workers credit Facebook and Twitter for playing a role in adoptions.
One example comes from the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County, who survey people who adopt. In 2008, 308 of them said they adopted animals they had seen on the Internet, like the shelter's website. The following year the shelter started a Facebook page. In 2011, 737 adoptions had a reported Internet connection.
The spike has a lot to do with social media, according to Margareet Richmond, the Development Director for the Pierce County shelter.
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