One of the biggest strengths of social media is how it connects us to other people, but Facebook, Twitter and other social outlets also connect us to shelter animals in need. In other words, it's not just about getting updates on what your friends had for lunch — it's about saving lives.

Shelters and individuals frequently turn to social media to spread the word about injured or homeless animals. If the animal's story goes viral, it makes it possible to raise much-needed funds or results in adoption offers from across the globe.

In fact, social media can be such a winning factor that the Humane Society offers guidelines to help craft posts that will tug at heartstrings.

To demonstrate the power of a tweet or Facebook post in aiding pet adoptions, we've compiled our favorite viral rescue stories, including the simple steps that got the pile of puppies in the photo above adopted.

In December, the Wisconsin Humane Society's accountant was walking through the shelter when she spotted the five pit bull puppies napping together in a formation so adorable that she had to stop and snap a photo.

Not long after, the photo was posted on the organization's Facebook page, and within hours, adoption offers were pouring in. Twenty-four hours later, all of the puppies had forever homes.

Home at last

Paige adoption photo

Photo: Franklin County Humane Society Planned Pethood & Adoption Center

Paige entered the Franklin County Humane Society on March 8, 2013, and shelter workers expected the gentle dog to be adopted quickly. But more than a year later, Paige was still in the shelter.

So on Oct. 31, 2014, the staff tried something a little different.

They snapped a photo of Paige wearing a sign that read, "I have been waiting 597 days for a family" and posted it on Facebook.

The photo went viral, reaching more than 7 million people in only days, and exactly one week later, Paige was adopted.

Elvis has left the building

Elvis shelter dog

Photo: Pawsitively Texas

In 2013, a rescue dog named Elvis was sitting in a shelter in Mineral Wells, Texas, a town with fewer than 17,000 people.

The shelter snapped this memorable photo of Elvis and shared it on social media, but it wasn't until Pawsitively Texas shared the image that Elvis found Internet fame.

The group shared the image — along with the text, "Elvis heard a fella's really got to stand out to get people to give him the exposure he needs for adoption, so he's giving it his best shot" — and the post was shared by thousands of people in the small town and surrounding areas.

The very next day, Elvis left the building with his new family.

Sometimes weird works

Rami dog

Photo: WALB/screen shot

Rami — a pit bull-Dachshund mix — is an odd-looking dog, but his unique appearance is what earned him millions of likes, comments and shares on Facebook.

Offers to adopt the dog came from multiple continents, but the Moultrie-Colquitt County Humane Society ultimately decided that the best place for Rami was with them.

He now serves as an ambassador for the shelter and is training to become a therapy dog.

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Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

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Sometimes a Facebook post or a tweet can make all the difference for a shelter dog.