The next morning, I woke up to my phone, email, and Instagram profile overflowing with messages and advice. People had posted to their own social media accounts (one of my supervisors even posted the flier on Reddit), and I felt really grateful that people were spreading the word. Throughout the day I watched the reach explode; my devastation was matched by my awe, as the care of so many became evident.
Over the next few days, I continued to use every resource I could: lost pet alerts, shelter databases, Craigslist, under both “Lost and Found” and “Wanted” (my friends and I posted fake ads to try and buy him back if he was being sold). I was beginning to get Instagram comments from shelters in the area, offering more suggestions for actions to take and promising to contact me should Esteban make it their way. A friend called vets’ offices and explained what happened. Another friend, Monika, used her access to large-scale printing to pop off a giant batch of the flier and helped get crews together to post them.
My supervisor connected me with a friend of his who’d gone through a similar experience, and she gave me the contact info for a “pet detective” who had been integral in her eventual reunion with her stolen pup. The pet detective offered me new tips, like changing my flier to say “stolen” instead of “lost,” and reaching out to news networks. She told me to make the posters a bright color and put up at least six at a time, so Monika printed hundreds of neon pink fliers for me. I posted the new flier to my Instagram and created an Imgur link for it so people could download and print or post it. One of the doctors at the Williamsburg CityMD even posted the flier along the route that she takes when she walks her dog. (Later, she sent me a message saying that North Brooklyn was plastered in pink.) Esteban’s return had become a full-blown campaign. He even had his own hashtags, like #SearchingForEsteban, #BringEstebanHome, and #WhereIsEsteban.