The new page, called Gloucester Township PD Lost and Found Animals, was first launched Nov. 4 as a centralized location for dogs, cats and other animals found by township police officers to be posted and shared by members of the community.
Chuck Dougherty, a former township officer who served for 25 years, originally helped start the department’s social media channels while serving as a detective. After retiring last year, he was asked to return earlier this year to help run the department’s social media channels and ran its original Facebook page from its inception in 2010.
Dougherty said when police recover a lost pet in the township, officers would typically bring it to the municipal building, where the department has a kennel to keep animals until the Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Center can pick up a pet to hold it while an owner is located.
“When our Facebook started, we then started to take a picture of the animal with an officer, or the animal by itself, to post onto our social media to help more quickly locate their owner,” said Dougherty. “And our dog posts became very popular.”
Dougherty said in recent years, the department’s posts regarding lost-and-found pets have become overwhelmingly popular among both residents and those outside the township, with many likes and shares.
While one of the department’s jobs is to help connect missing animals with owners, Dougherty said the posts about lost pets have long overshadowed others, such as news of upcoming community and police events.
“Because the dogs are so popular, everyone likes and shares those and then our residents won’t end up seeing our Coffee with a Cop events, our department updates, stuff like that,” Dougherty explained. “So we started discussing the possibility of making a separate Facebook page just for lost animals.”
As of deadline, the Gloucester Township Police Department Facebook page has approximately 36,000 followers, while the new page specifically for missing animals has approximately 450. According to Dougherty, the department’s main page will share pictures of lost pets from the new account for an extended period of time, as residents learn about the transition of posts from the original page to the new one.
“We want this to be a fast and efficient way to help find those lost animals: That’s the whole purpose of it for us,” Dougherty noted. “We’re here for our residents, and part of that is helping them find a loved one, which is a traumatic deal when that might happen. But we also need to make sure our other posts with important information continue to get out there too, such as services we offer and events we hold.”