The Instagram way to raise pet awareness

SINGAPORE - Taking photos of animals and putting them up on Instagram isn't just a pastime for some animal lovers - it's also a way to spread awareness of the animals' plight.

Take, for instance, the House Rabbit Society of Singapore (HRSS), which took to the free photo-sharing social-media platform on Aug 22 to inform rabbit lovers about abandoned bunnies up for adoption, and rabbit-rescue efforts.

Ms Jacelyn Heng, 34, vice-president of HRSS, said the society aims to use Instagram and other social media to "educate and spread rabbit-welfare awareness virally".

She added that Instagram is easy to use and access for many smartphone users.

HRSS has used Instagram to publicise celebrations held over the weekend, ahead of World Animal Day on Oct 4.

The celebrations at United Square Shopping Centre were organised by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, together with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore and nine other animal-welfare groups.

Other pet owners and enthusiasts have also been using Instagram to raise awareness.

Ms Carlyn Law, 38, organiser of the Cats of the World Photo Exhibition, said she used Instagram to highlight animal welfare and spread love for cats. "The platform has allowed many cats to be adopted and rehomed. We have also managed to raise pertinent issues on animal welfare and raise funds to help cats in need," she added.

SPCA has also taken to Instagram but is more active on online sites like Facebook.

Informal communities exist on Instagram too, like one for rabbit lovers which connects enthusiasts globally, including those here, said Ms Heng.

Some hashtags - which make searching for bunny posts easier - used are "bunniesworldwide" and "sgbuns".

Rabbit owner and bank officer Clancie Ng, 31, said a United States pet owner had set up a website to raise funds for her rabbit, Smeagol, which had a persistent tumour.

"Many people helped spread the word through Instagram with a picture and a short description of Smeagol's plight," said Ms Ng, who donated $50 through PayPal.

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