An average of seven million cats and dogs enter animal shelters each year, and 2.7 million are euthanized, according to the US Humane Society. In Silicon Valley, 40 percent of adoptable shelter pets were euthanized in 2013.
Meet Cynthia Typaldos SM ’81, founder of a number of Silicon Valley tech startups and a pet owner to three shelter dogs and six cockatiels. With her full house, she was unable to keep Bronco, a gray pit bull that had wandered into her yard. So she dropped him off at her local municipal animal shelter. When he was still there a couple months later, she fliered her region with hundreds of posters to find him a home.
The idea for AdoptMeApp was born.
“A lot of the municipal and county shelters are run by police. They do a great job of getting animals off the street, but a poor job at getting the word out about adoptable pets,” said Typaldos. She adds that shelters are often hindered by archaic client-server technology and dependent on volunteers with varying levels of communications expertise to spread the word about adoptable pets.
She and her team developed AdoptMeApp, a smartphone app that shelter volunteers can easily use to post stories about shelter pets complete with video and photos to tell an animal’s story from his or her point of view. It’s already having a positive impact on adoption at Humane Society Silicon Valley. “What our app does is say these are great pets…they just happen to be homeless,” she said.
There’s the story of Canelo, a two year-old Chihuahua mix: “I am cautious of strangers initially, but once I warm up with some happy talk and yummy treats, I will dazzle you with my charming smile that goes ear to ear.”
Foxy Cleopatra, a one-year-old domestic short hair cat, shares a bit of her personality in her post: “I know that my jaw-dropping gorgeous eyes and indescribably beautiful coat has struck you like no other feline you’ve ever met. And yes, you are seeing right, I have both brown AND gray markings.”
Can’t adopt a pet? Typaldos and her team have also developed SponsorMeApp, which allows animal lovers to donate money to the shelter on behalf of a specific pet. In return, the sponsor receives updates on and photos of the animal.
The company recently received a Red Cross Technology Hero Award and has joined up with the MIT Club of Northern California’s Bay Area Venture Mentoring Service to expand. The technologies behind AdoptMeApp and SponsorMeApp could extend far beyond just dogs and cats. “It could be for sponsoring a baby elephant…it could be for a fire truck,” she said.
Visit AdoptMeApp’s website or Twitter feed for more information, and follow along on Humane Society Silicon Valley’s AdoptMeApp Twitter feed for tweets linked to the stories of adoptable pets.