Lost pets, abandoned animals and shelter dogs are all becoming the unlikely benefactors of the hugely popular mobile game Pokémon Go. The gaming app that has rocketed in popularity in the weeks since its release and is getting plenty of media coverage about how it’s getting many people to head outdoors.
Players explore their neighborhoods in search of virtual Pokémon to “catch” with their smart phones. Surprisingly, players are also making discoveries in the real-world that are saving animals.
Sara Perez and Matthew Teague made such a discovery when they visited a park in Houston, Texas, only to stumble upon a diaper box with a cage inside.
“[We] saw a strange box on the ground [and] said box had a cage in it and inside were hamsters abandoned in the heat with no water and birdseed for food and they were close to dying!” Perez wrote in a Facebook post. “They had pinkies [baby mice] they were trying to keep from dying and most of them were suffering from heat exhaustion!”
There weren’t just a few hamsters and baby mice either. There were 27 of them! Thankfully all of them survived thanks to Sara and Matthew’s rescue efforts.
Sara and Matthew searched to see if the owner might still be around, but no one was there, so they took the animals home and gave them food and water.
Sara immediately set about to find the abandoned animals homes. She asked her friends on the Pokémon Go: Houston community Facebook page.
Sara told Click2Houston that she found homes for four, and will ask for help from the Houston SPCA to find homes for the others.
Pokémon Go has also reportedly assisted people in finding their lost dogs and one shelter in Indiana is garnering attention for plugging into the Pokémon craze by encouraging people to come by their shelter and walk a dog while out searching.
Muncie Animal Shelter posted the following message to its Facebook page, which has garnered lots of attention:
“Trying to hatch an egg or catch rare Pokémon? Come down to the Muncie Animal Shelter to walk one of our dogs while you get your steps in!” its Facebook post reads. “Just come to the front desk and say you are here for the Pokémon dogs!”
In case you’re wondering if it worked, Phil Peckinpaugh, the Muncie Animal Shelter Superintendent, told The Star Press that 73 people showed up to walk one of their 75 adoptable dogs within a few days and one of the dogs was even adopted!
“I just want our dogs to have stimulation and exercise,” Peckinpaugh told the paper as to why he decided to get in on the craze. “I didn’t have any ulterior motives; it was an incredibly pure motive. I just wanted our dogs walked.”
He hopes that the shelter can retain some volunteers and that ‘Pokemon Go’ isn’t something that lasts a couple weeks. “I hope the shelter becomes a hot spot,” he said. “I just want people to come and walk our dogs.”
Pokémon may just be entertainment, but it’s heartwarming to see how a game is having such a positive effect on animals in need!