Stoke Newington Facebook group for lost pets

Elzbieta Gontarska and her cat Ollie

Elzbieta Gontarska and her cat Ollie - Credit: Archant

Lost cats and dogs have a new lifeline with a Facebook volunteer group in Stoke Newington dedicated to reuniting them with their owners.

With multiple success stories – including reuniting a cat which had been missing for two years, even though its owner had changed address – Stokey Cats and Dogs has become the “go to” destination for distressed owners.

Group founder, Elzbieta Gontarska, 36, who set it up as a free voluntary project, said: “I opened this group less than a year ago because where I live in Stoke Newington I kept finding cats on the street and they seemed to be all abandoned. We found five cats and realised we have to do something that is just local to see how it goes.”

Other Facebook users soon saw the group, which now has more than 100 members and shared their own sightings of cats, dogs and missing posters.

“I didn’t think I was doing something important, I just thought I was doing something helpful. To help to an owner who loses a cat or dog and seeing that happiness on both sides when they are reunited is really rewarding.

“For me animals are part of the family; they are not accessories.”

Every day, Elzbieta, of Wiston Road, takes a few hours to go through pictures of missing animals on related search engines.

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She also has links with animal sheltering agencies and regularly liaises with them, including the north London branch of Cats Protection and organises group poster-sticking and searches around Stoke Newington.

Elzbieta said her key advice to owners of animals is to always make sure they are neutered and micro-chipped to speed up the process of finding out where they live.

And if a pet goes missing?

She said: “I would put as many posters up as possible, go door to door and ask your neighbours because it is possible the animals are hiding in gardens and sheds.

“Put food outside that can tempt a cat and if these things are not working, it is good just to talk to the local Cat Protection, as well as vets, shelters, even the council.

“I would also say if someone has lost a cat or dog, join a group like ours because we can give advice from the bottom of the heart and spread the word.

“There is definitely hope and I would say never give up.”

Visit Stokey Cats and Dogs