If pet adoption were more like online dating, it might look something like this:
SINGLE BLACK FEMALE seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I’m a very good girl who loves to play. I love long walks in the woods, riding in your pickup truck, hunting, camping and fishing trips, cozy winter nights lying by the fire. Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. I’ll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me. Call (404) 875-6420 and ask for Daisy, I’ll be waiting….
Since 2003, this ad has circulated on the Internet, but it wasn’t for a woman seeking companionship. This ad was for a homeless black Labrador retriever who was awaiting a home at the Atlanta Humane Society.
If you ever wished that adopting an animal were more like online dating, www.AllPaws.com is the site for you. It’s still in the testing stage, but Darrell Lerner, the creator of this site, hopes to launch the full site soon.
With previous experience in dating websites, Lerner wanted to create a more user-friendly website to help pets get adopted. Users have a whole host of preferences they can use when narrowing down potential pets, beyond the standard ones of age, gender, and species. The extras include coat length and color; animal size; pets’s grooming needs; if they’re good with dogs, cats, or kids; if they can live in an apartment; if they’re vaccinated. You can choose a pet who’s playful or one who is mellow. You can choose pets by energy level, by the amount of training they’ve had, or how much they shed. AllPaws even allows users to mark their favorites and share animals on facebook and twitter. Lerner says the point of all this is to “make the process more efficient, and generate better matches”—so that ultimately, people will end up with the right pets for them. Which in turn, hopefully, will lead to fewer people returning their adopted pets due to late-discovered incompatibilities.
It’s amazing to see how social media and technology have evolved to help homeless animals get adopted. I still remember back in the late ’90s, when I was a manager at the Michigan Humane Society, and a woman named Betsy Saul was trying to sell me on the idea of posting adoptable animals on the website www.petfinder.com to help them get adopted. I thought she was nuts.
The Michigan Humane Society took in 50,000 animals a year, adopted out 13,000 and she wanted me to take pictures of all of them? At the time, our shelters didn’t have computers that were connected to the Internet and we used Polaroid cameras to take pictures of a few of the animals to be posted around town in an effort to gain visibility. And that was a chore. I wondered how we would ever pull this “posting on the internet” thing off. Aside from the extra workload, I envisioned getting calls from people who lived in Ohio, Illinois, and other nearby states asking us to ship them the animal they saw pictured on the internet. I didn’t quite get the concept. Luckily, our team of managers decided to give it a go and recruited volunteers to take up the task of photographing adoptable pets and posting them online. It’s a good thing we did. Now Petfinder has helped more than 17 million pets find homes.
My hope is that between AllPaws and Petfinder, we will be able to make a dent in the eight million unwanted animals that are taken in by shelters across the country each year.
Adoptable Pet of the Week
Sophie is a beautiful long-haired muted calico cat looking for a forever home. This 7-year-old is a friendly sweet mature girl who loves being brushed, petted, and pampered. Sophie gets along with other cats and also with dogs.
The following is included in the adoption fee at ASAP: Spay or neuter surgery, flea treatment, vaccinations, microchipping, Health evaluation, including testing for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Cats thought to be 10 years or older receive a full blood panel evaluation, thus assuring that the cat is indeed healthy and adoptable, Medical and drug coverage through ASAP’s vet for 2 weeks beyond adoption, if necessary, Temperament evaluation and Cat Carrier (you can save the County money by bringing your own).
To meet Sophie, and other available cats needing loving homes, visit ASAP at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter, 5473 Overpass Road. Hours: Weekdays, 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, call the ASAP office at 683-3368 or visit their website at www.asapcats.org.
Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP) is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization that takes care of the cats and kittens at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter. ASAP provides humane care for these animals and works to eliminate the practice of euthanizing them for reasons other than serious health or behavior problems.