When people take a person’s personal possessions, it is an invasion of their privacy. Depending on what is stolen, theft can also involve taking something that someone has worked hard to obtain or that has sentimental value to them. There is something even worse about a homeless person having everything they own stolen, especially because they already have so little in their lives. Sadly, that is what happened to United States veteran David Drake. According to I Heart Dogs, thieves stole homeless veteran Drake’s SUV and everything that it contained. Although this meant he had lost his vehicle, in which he slept, and his personal possessions, the thieves had taken something far more important. When the SUV was stolen, his beloved service dog Gemma, a Labrador/ Pit Bull mix, was inside.
Drake was determined to get Gemma back, and he had people on his side to help him. One group of people who were behind his efforts to have the dog returned was Maslow’s Army. This is an organization that helps the homeless, and it is entirely run by volunteers. Just some of the work undertaken by Maslow’s Army to support homeless people are serving meals, providing peer guidance, and putting on shuttle transport. Their vision is to give homeless people and the less fortunate some hope and to support them in gaining the skills needed to become self-sufficient citizens. They take a particular interest in supporting families and veterans. The volunteers at Maslow’s Army understood what a great loss Drake was suffering as a result of Gemma being stolen as she played an important role in his life. Support dogs are specially trained to support people who are suffering from a physical disability or a mental illness. The loss of Gemma also meant a loss of stability for Drake.
Maslow’s Army was co-founded by Samuel and Susan Landis, and this couple led the efforts to help Drake get his dog back. The uploaded a photograph of Gemma on the charity’s Facebook page, along with a request for help to find the dog. Samuel and Susan even offered a reward of $1000 for the safe return of Gemma. There were many who doubted that the social media plea and reward offer would have any success. Those who doubted this were thankfully proved wrong when it led to the safe return of Gemma just a month later. The good news is that Gemma had been well cared for during her time away from Drake. After she was stolen with the SUV, a homeless man had found her. The dog had been staying with him since, and it was he who made sure the dog was safely returned.
The homeless man who had found Gemma did not know that she had been stolen at first. He believed that she was an abandoned dog. When he learned that she belonged to a homeless veteran, he knew that returning her to her rightful owner was the right thing to do, even if it meant that he would miss her. The man said that he could understand the loss that Drake must have felt and that returning Gemma to him was important. When Susan and Samuel tried to give him the $1000 reward, he initially rejected the money. However, Maslow’s Army insisted that he take the money and wrote him the check despite the objections. They told him they would like the money to go towards getting him some permanent housing.
The moment that Gemma and Drake were reunited was amazing. The pair had been apart for 33 days by that time. Susan Landis described their reunion saying that it was a priceless moment when Gemma was returned to Drake in Bowling Green, which is a city in southern Kentucky. As the pair met for the first time in over a month, Drake’s tears were flowing. Even those who witnessed the reunion were so touched by the emotion of the moment that they also cried. However, these were all tears of joy as everyone was delighted that the pair were back together as they had been lost without each other. This story shows the power that social media can have in spreading the word and that it is an effective method of finding a missing dog. When people share photographs of a dog that has gone missing along with information about its disappearance.
Many people who have lost their dogs use social media as a tool to reunite them with their beloved pets. This is usually a measure they take after they have already searched locally and asked their neighbors to help them find their dog. They will then often put up posters around the neighborhood where the dog has gone missing, before putting a post on social media. The reason that this works so well in reuniting missing dogs with their owners is that it raises awareness to a wider group of people. This happens because people share the post to their friends and followers, who in turn share the post again to give the post visibility to a new group of people. More people over a wider geographical area are then aware of the disappearance of the dog and can keep their eye out for the missing animal. Not only does it raise awareness that a dog is missing, but it also makes it easier to contact the owners when an animal is found so that the dog and owner can then be reunited.
Of course, the most effective tool in reuniting missing animals with their owners is microchipping, as the person who finds the dog can take it to a veterinarian or an animal shelter to have the pet scanned. This will then reveal the dog’s identification and address. Unfortunately, Drake and Gemma did not have a fixed abode, so microchipping was not an option for them. Fortunately, social media worked its magic in reuniting them, so the lack of a microchip was not an issue.