By Cathy Anderson
Thousands of rescue pets increasingly find their ‘furever’ homes thanks to online profiles on animal sites, and two new smartphone apps are about to make it even easier.
The internet has made searching for a new pet — mostly cats and dogs — much easier than the old fashioned way of visiting a local shelter.
Not-for-profit umbrella rescue site petrescue.com.au hosts profiles of animals from more than 1000 shelters and rescue organisations.
John Bishop, petrescue.com.au Director (pictured above), says sites like his have helped to dispel the stigma that rescue animals were ‘damaged’.
And online is becoming the preferred way for potential owners to find a furbaby.
“We’ve had year-on-year exponential growth,” he told The Huffington Post Australia.
“Last year we rehomed 89,000 pets which is just phenomenal. In 2014 we rehomed just under 70,000.
“We’re now seeing upwards of 25,000 visitors to the site every day and we have seen 25 percent growth year on year for traffic to the website — that’s a lot of people looking for a new pet.”
Bishop said the site also showed profiles of dogs in foster care groups — which made up the largest group of organisations using petrescue.com.au at 75 percent.
Pet profiles online allow potential owners to find a pet much more easily than racing around in a car visiting shelters, and have boosted the numbers of animals adopted.
Bishop said the internet had not only helped rehome thousands of pets, it helped educate the public about rescue animals.
“People had this idea that rescue pets were bad or faulty or there was something wrong with them which is why they ended up in the rescue system — maybe they’re aggressive or they haven’t been toilet trained or they’ll rip up your backyard or whatever.
“But the overwhelming number of animals that come into rescue aren’t there because of anything to do with the animal — it’s to do with the owner. So perhaps a couple split up and they can’t keep a pet, or somebody passes away or people move internationally.
“The animals coming through rescue are amazing — all they need is a new home.”
As well as the online platform, petrescue.com.au is releasing a refurbished smartphone app in August to help make the process even easier and convenient.
Introducing Tinder for pets
Another pet rescue smartphone app is taking the matchmaking theme to a new level.
Inspired by Tinder, Zeppee allows users all over the country to search for their perfect new family member by setting distance parameters, type and breed of animal then swiping left or right to either save an animal’s profile on your favourites or keep searching.
Co-creator and serial entrepreneur Ben Burton, who named the app after his rescue cat Zeppee, said he wanted a process for potential owners to see as many animals as possible without having to spend hours in traffic visiting shelters.
“We just wanted to be able to present these animals in a really personal, humanised way,” he told HuffPost Australia.
“It’s more sitting at home with a glass of wine, have a bit of fun, swipe through and meet the animal. It’s Gen Ys that will pick up the Tinder-style function of it immediately and we are marketing to them. It’s a very addictive thing and it’s a lot of fun to be able to swipe through.”
The app has around 3000 animals listed from Darwin to Perth and Byron Bay.
But it’s not just for rescue pets breeders and private owners can also access it although there are strict user protocols. Burton said each breeder’s information was cross checked by the Zeppee team — as are shelters who apply to advertise — and private owners were only allowed one listing to avoid backyard breeders and puppy farms promoting their animals.
Just like Tinder, users swipe left or right to save an animal to a favourites list or keep searching.
Burton previously had a business selling cars privately online and said he saw Zeppee in a similar way to Carsales.com.
“I love business and I would be lying if I said we didn’t see a gap in the market and a potential for a great business,” he said.
“But also I have grown up with pets, and now I have three cats and a dog. I’m pretty much a shelter — and it’s always something that’s close to me.”
This article first appeared in the Small Business section of The Huffington Post Australia