Many of us regularly receive e-mails regarding dogs in need of rescue. They are often forwarded messages and sometimes we receive them multiple times because several well intentioned forwarders send them to everyone in their address books as well as e-mail lists. Here's the thing - if you really want to be helpful, count to ten before hitting that forward button:
1. If the original message you are about to forward was not written by someone you know and trust (which is usually the case), try to verify the facts. The message may contain partially or entirely erroneous information. Example.
2. Who are you more likely to listen to carefully: a person speaking in a calm, normal voice or a child throwing a temper tantrum? For me, it's the former. That's why I tend to go into automatic-tune-out mode when something hits my inbox in all caps [HELP NEEDED], with dramatic language [SUPER SWEET DOG WILL BE GASSED TOMORROW AM], and repetitive exclamations [XXX URGENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SAD, SAD, SAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]. It's just overload. And it keeps me from getting the info the forwarder wanted me to have because I'm glassy-eyed and searching for the delete key.
3. If the original message is buried beneath a bunch of people posting notes that say "Don't reply to me, I'm just the messenger", that wastes a lot of my time trying to dig down to the message the sender wants me to see. I understand the idea that the sender doesn't want me (or anyone else in his address book) to think he has first hand information about the subject of the forward, but I do get that it's a forward and as long as the original poster's info is preserved, I have no need to see all the previous forwarders' disclaimers. Likewise, I need only the original sender's permission/request to crosspost/forward - not Dick, Jane, Tom and Harry's. If the extraneous fluff is trimmed, I can get straight to the original message. (Trimming all those sigs at the bottom=BONUS.)
4. Before forwarding the message to an e-mail list, forum, or other group, check to see if someone else has already done so. Repeat messages in a group environment are another trigger for my automatic-tune-out setting. And I may miss an important reply to the message because of that.
5. Important info that I'm looking for in the message:
- City and State where dog is located
- Exactly what kind of help is needed (foster for 1 week, ID a breed, donation for Vet care, etc.)
- Contact info for person/group to get in touch with if I can offer assistance
- Original poster's contact info (if different from above)
- Specifics on dog in need of help, if known (breed, gender, age, no cats, etc.)
- Exact time of deadline, if applicable (e.g. "Dog will be PTS Wednesday morning, May 5th", NOT vague references like "Tonight" or "Soon")
6. Info I don't need:
- Life story of the owner/former owner who can no longer/never did care for this dog. If you say the dog is in need, I believe you. 'Nuff said.
- Condemnation of a "rival" rescue group - yo, it's not a competition. We're all just trying to help the dogs, right?
- Philosophizing on what the judge/animal control officer/shelter director should have done - das what blogs is for - get one!
- List of mis-formatted links which may have worked in the original post but have been forwarded so many times they are now just a jumbled mess of AOL-speak. If you can fix the links before forwarding, that would be a great timesaver.
Got more ideas? Comments are open!