Reddit bills itself as “the front page of the Internet,” but over time, a lot of people have come to think of it more as the open sewer of the Internet. Last year, Reddit got some of its biggest coverage ever when Gawker exposed Michael Brutsch as “Violentacrez,” an incredibly active moderator who was best known for running the “Jailbait” subreddit, which consisted of pictures of scantily clad teenage (and pre-teen) girls. He also created or moderated sections called “Rapebait,” “beatingwomen,” and “Jewmerica.” Although Brutsch was especially prolific, Reddit does have a reputation for high troll content, including misogyny and racism.
Which is to say, it is always good to see some news about Reddit that has nothing to do with sleaze. In fact, this is really cool: With the help of two communities on Reddit, a woman in Houston was reunited with her dog, who slipped away while she was walking him earlier this month.
On Dec. 1, Piper Below, a professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health, took her dog Jack out for a walk at a vacant lot near her home. Jack suddenly slipped through a hole in the fence and ran into the street, where he was struck by a truck. He seemed unhurt at first, Below said: “He bounced off the truck, got up and ran back toward us. I thought he was coming back, but he darted off instead. And I knew I had to find him.”
That’s where Reddit came in. Below posted Jack’s picture in the Houston and Dogpictures subreddits, with a plea for people to keep an eye out for him. The hunt was on almost instantly. By the next morning, she had hundreds of messages from people offering help or suggesting resources. In an interview with CNN Headline News, Below said, “I got e-mails from people that said ‘I go on a walk every day. I’ll reroute near where Jack was lost and look for him.’ One woman said she was stuck at home with an injury and had nothing to do, so she would go look for him. And even when we found him, we met someone who was out looking for him.”
Jack was found last Monday. At 3:30 p.m., Below got a call at work from a woman who said that she had found Jack in the parking lot of a nearby grocery store. On Headline News, she said, “I saw his body relax as soon as he saw me. So I had this scared, filthy dog in my arms, and I was crying. There just aren’t words.”
So now the two are back together, and Jack is apparently none the worse for wear. Below wrote an update on Reddit, thanking everyone and letting them know that Jack was okay: “We just got back from the vet and he is a bit scraped up but otherwise fine! Some meds for pain (scrapes and bruises), but that’s it. The doc was as blown away as me, and I SAW him get hit by that truck. I feel like I won the dog lottery when I found this guy, and today reddit rescued my rescue. <3 you guys”
Sometimes, the Internet does live up to its hype as a new tool for community, instead of a constant fount of emotional abuse and financial scams. Congratulations to Jack, Piper Below, and everyone who helped out on Reddit.