7 On Your Side helps animal rescue with social media meltdown

PARAMUS, New Jersey (WABC) -- There are about one billion people active on Facebook. That's why non-profits, like one fledgling animal rescue in Bergen County, rely on Facebook to solicit donations, recruit volunteers and get their puppies adopted.

So when their social media page went "poof" they panicked and sent - what else - a Facebook message to Nina Pineda, and got 7 On Your Side.

Some rescues are in puppy purgatory. Their adoptions are on hold because potential "furever" families can't even be introduced to dogs like "Happy," who's still looking for a home.

"We can't post any of our adoptable pets. We can't post any of our upcoming events. So it's really hurt out social media exposure," said Noreen Delaney, who founded the all volunteer Happy Tails Animal Rescue out of her home in Paramus.

It relied solely on its Facebook page to match pets with almost a thousand followers. But in December, the page fell off Facebook's feed entirely.

"I think we kind of got lost," said Noreen. "Nobody responds to our email. There's no way to live chat."

Her home has become a zoo in the meantime. Noreen has taken in a dozen guinea pigs, cats and more dogs while not being able to connect any furry creatures with families.

She tried to link her personal profile page to a new Happy Tails page, but it only has 124 friends.

"It's really slowed our sales of fundraiser tickets and getting exposure out there for our adoptable pets," said Noreen.

Then she saw one of the pets she successfully adopted on 7 On Your Side; "Noah", an emotional support dog we met helping a young woman with her disability benefits. And after seeing her former rescue on TV she called us to help her rescue her page.

We reached a real person at Facebook who figured out what went wrong. Three months ago Facebook started sending Noreen emails asking her to "migrate" Happy Tails' Facebook "profile" to a "page", since profiles are normally reserved for personal use, not organizations.

But Facebook says Noreen misunderstood the directions, forcing it to block access to the original Happy Tails profile.

After our calls, Noreen got a call from our friends at Facebook.

"You guys were able to get in touch with Facebook. They contacted us and somehow our page is back up," said Noreen. The page now has all the adoptable precious pets and upcoming events displayed.

"You made a lot of happy tails for Happy Tails," laughed Noreen.

A Facebook rep said it finished migrating the Happy Tails profile into a page Wednesday morning. Now again - there's a big difference between a page and profile

Facebook "profiles" are only for personal accounts. And Facebook requires "people use their real names", that way they're more accountable for what they publish and post.

But for businesses and organizations like Happy Tails, a "Page" is the standard. Facebook is policing their profiles and pages, trying to weed out fakes.

FACEBOOK STATEMENT:

"We believe that people are more accountable for their statements and actions when they use their authentic identities. That's why we require that people use their real name in their profile to connect on Facebook. If you operate a business, we ask that you represent that business using a Page, rather than a Profile. We have tools that help people make these transitions in our Help Center and work to explain our guidelines and tools to people where possible."- Facebook spokesperson

When you create a Facebook page based on your profile, you won't lose your friends or content in the process.

Click HERE to learn more about creating a page based on your profile in the Help Center.

Click HERE for more help with Facebook pages.

Click HERE to visit the Happy Tails Animal Rescue Facebook page.

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