CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — People who lose pets in southeast Missouri have a new resource to help them find their beloved animals — Facebook.

The Southeast Missourian ( ) reports that the Facebook page “SEMO Lost Pet” provides a resource both for those who have lost pets and people who have found animals and are seeking to get them back to their owners.

A picture of the pet is posted. Once found, that information is posted, too, even if the news is not good.

Rochelle Steffen says the idea for the page began when a friend lost his dog and reached out to his own Facebook friends for help.

Steffen started SEMO Lost Pet as a way to alert a larger number of people. More than 10,000 people now follow the page, which has posted thousands of photos since it was created six years ago.

Steffen has since enlisted the help of friends Elizabeth Hann and Barb Frolker, who participate in the page’s administration.

The women work to get photos posted quickly.

“Urgency’s a big deal,” Steffen said. “Out on the street is no joke for a lost dog.”

Success isn’t always immediate. In mid-January, Nadene Lemons of Glenallen, Missouri, had two of her dogs run off. One came back, but 4-year-old Riley, a black lab/chow mix, remained missing.

Lemons posted Riley’s picture to SEMO Lost Pet while carrying out her own search.

In February, Lemons was contacted by Katie Heuring, who saw the post and believed she had spotted Riley wandering around a lake near her home. Lemons arrived to search, but no luck.

Two months later, Riley showed up again, this time with his image caught on a trail camera. But it wasn’t until June, after discovering Riley hiding in a shed, that Lemons took food and a portable kennel and waited.

Eventually, Riley emerged, covered in ticks but happy to be returned to his family.

“It wouldn’t have happened without SEMO Lost Pet,” Lemons said.

“There was so many times I would begin to think I should give up, and every time I had that thought, someone would send me a message about a dog,” Lemons said.

The success stories make the effort worth it, those who operate SEMO Lost Pet said — even when the ending is sad. People sometimes post when they spot a pet dead along a road. Even that offers closure to the pet owner, Frolker said.

Information from: Southeast Missourian,

VIAThe Associated Press
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.