Monday, March 09, 2009

The Ballad of Cookie and Coco

Cookie and CocoWith all the foreclosures around the country, a recurrent topic in the media is homeless or abandoned pets. So when a dog-loving dog-having friend received an e-mail about two older dogs, Cookie and Coco, that needed a home quickly because their house was in foreclosure, she naturally forwarded it to everyone she knew. And everyone she knew forwarded it to everyone they knew, but with her contact information from work still in the e-mail. (Disclosure: I forwarded the e-mail to two of my colleagues, and they may have forwarded the e-mail widely.)

Somehow, in all the cutting and pasting and forwarding, it was assumed that she was the contact information for the needy dogs:

"Almost immediately, I got several emails asking if I knew who the owners were and how to contact them. . . But then the calls and emails started increasing. By the weekend, my voicemail box was filling up and I was being inundated with emails. The next week when I came into work, I was getting a call every 5 or 10 minutes regarding the dogs. It became apparent that the email had spread beyond New Mexico and I was getting calls from people in Texas, Arizona, even Idaho. . . My information was being posted on websites and newsletters and humane societies . . . and animal rescues all over the west began to chime in."

Local radio stations were airing announcements about the dogs that included her phone number. Fliers have popped up around town with the same information. The IT department at her work had to change her phone number, set up a special message about the dogs for the old number, and develop a filter for her e-mail so that any queries about the pups would go right to her junk folder.

As it turned out, the dogs are from California, and yes, they have found a home. However, it seems that my friend is not alone in having been inundated by requests for more information. While it's wonderful that so many thousands of people have Cookie's and Coco's best interests at heart, the ease of e-mail forwarding might prevent some good Samaritans from responding to similar pleas in the future.

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