Do you like long walks on the beach and nights snuggled up on the couch, or would you rather go mountain climbing followed by a night of clubbing? Obviously, your preference says a lot about your personality and lifestyle. For people seeking to adopt a pet it is a great idea to match your personality and lifestyle to that of the animal and the Internet has made that task easier than ever via apps such as “PawsLikeMe.”
PawsLikeMe is a new online platform that approaches animal adoption just like dating. The site matches people with dogs that fit their personality and lifestyle using a matching algorithm with more than 90% accuracy in predicting people-to-pet compatibility.
It is estimated that about 70% of pets are re-homed at least once in their lifetime and PawsLikeMe was designed to create a better resource for people who need to re-home their pets, and to facilitate a better match for people looking to adopt a pet. The site even donates a portion of every adoption fee through the site to a local rescue or shelter.
According to Elizabeth Holmes, CEO and co-founder of PawsLikeMe: “Our genuine hope is that by providing a better way of matching pets with their new families, we can change that and find them not just a home, but the right home. My co-founders are a veterinary animal behaviorist and a social worker with a psychology specialization. They combined their skillsets to develop our proprietary personality assessment.”
PawsLikeMe’s personality assessment is based on four core personality traits that influence the human-canine bond: energy, focus, confidence and independence. The matching system also takes into account personality, lifestyle and home environment when generating a score. Initial results are based solely on compatibility, but users can then further narrow down their compatible matches by personal preferences, such as size, age, or breed. PawsLikeMe also provides an alternative for people looking to safely re-home their pets, and gives shelters and rescues a place to refer families when they are unable to keep their pet. Additionally, as a part of its commitment to animal welfare, PawsLikeMe donates 50-percent of any adoption fee originating from a shelter or rescue group referral.
Pets listed with the site must be spayed or neutered, so PawsLikeMe offers vouchers for re-homers to use toward altering the pet at designated low-cost clinics before adoption. PawsLikeMe also provides adopting pet parents with incentives to kick start a successful new relationship. For instance, the “PawsKit” adoption package includes free 30-day full coverage pet insurance, more than $100 in pet product discounts, coupons, and a PawsLikeMe guide for new adopters with tips and tricks on making the move to a new home easy. Additionally, new pet parents get their pet’s profile transferred to them on PawsLikeMe, and can benefit from integrated social media tools and online pet parenting advice to keep their new relationship happy and healthy.
PawsLikeMe’s mission is to help people and pets find each other, and live happier lives together. The product includes an adoption center, with tools that connect adopters to re-homed pets and guide them through the adoption process. Recently co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes spoke to the Examiner about her experiences working with the app and her hopes for its future:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): What inspired you to create PawsLikeMe and why was that name chosen?
Elizabeth Holmes (E.H.): PawsLikeMe is inspired by my experience in animal welfare, as a former founder of a dog rescue group. We chose the name “PawsLikeMe” because it reflects our primary message: that dogs (and all pets), like people, are individuals with unique personalities, and to acknowledge that is key to having the most successful human/canine bond. I ran a rescue group for many years, while working in tech. It helped me understand what factors are most important in paring people and pets. Meanwhile, we used to get hundreds of emails and phone calls from owners wanting to surrender their pets, to keep them from going to the shelter. But as a small group with about a dozen active foster homes, we never had space. We started asking owners to foster their own dogs, and gave them access to our resources so they could connect with new adopters. We were surprised at how many were willing, and the program was a hit. PawsLikeMe offers these services at a national scale, using technology as the vehicle to connect new pet parents to adoptable pets. But we don’t limit our platform to rehomed pets alone. We are posting and matching pets at shelters and rescue groups across the country and directing adopters to them every day. We don’t charge organizations for the service, but we do collect the adoption fee for pets on the rehoming platform. We also donate a portion of every home-to-home adoption we facilitate. Our vision is to help keep pets out of shelters, and who knows, maybe even turn the home-to-home adoption concept into the “new normal”. After all, a shelter is meant to be the last resort, and our shelter partners couldn’t agree more with that!
M.M.: What kinds of animals are featured on PawsLikeMe?
E.H.: PawsLikeMe does not currently have an app, but our website is built to be mobile and browser compliant even though it currently can only be accessed through the web. The PawsLikeMe website features adoptable pets from shelters and rescue groups across the US and Canada, as well as pets posted through our re-homing platform. Our re-homing platform offers responsible owners the ability to post a dog they can no longer keep. PawsLikeMe provides guidance and support, as well as the tools necessary to fulfill an adoption to a new home.
M.M.: PawsLikeMe is the name of your animal adoption app. Do you have any other apps or items pending release?
E.H.: PawsLikeMe is looking to extend our platform to support cat matching, as well as to create a mobile app version of the dog matching system.
M.M.: How did you go about getting PawsLikeMe on the market?
E.H.: Having experience in technology and product development for the last 13 years positioned me very well for developing a go-to-market strategy to get PawsLikeMe from concept to reality. In 2013, I partnered with my co-founder Marianna who had almost a decade of experience as a social worker, and foster home for homeless animals – that she often used as therapy pets in counselling. We also partnered with Coleen, a DVM with animal behavior expertise. We had the perfect combination of skills to really think about the matching system from every angle. After much research and development, we had a method in place for successful canine-to-human matching. In mid-2014, we developed a beta prototype for testing and validation with pet parents. We used our social networks to ask friends, family and extended connections to complete the beta site’s test. We ran three beta tests that brought us from a 78% starting accuracy, to 85% in the second beta, and 91% in the third. The first version of PawsLikeMe.com started with the search engine for adopters to get matched to dogs, release in November 2014. We took a “develop-study-improve” approach that factored user feedback into every upgrade and feature. In January 2015 we added a section for Organization partners (shelters, rescue groups…) to add and manage pets directly on the site. In mid-August, we launched the beta version of our re-homing platform locally, in Florida, and began advertising the site to the public for the first time. We were so thrilled with the outpouring of support during our local launch in Orlando, we decided to launch Nationally the first week of October. Since the National launch just 3 weeks ago, we have had almost two million hits on the site!
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding part of working with PawsLikeMe?
E.H.: Working at PawsLikeMe is all about making a difference; we’re looking to set the stage for a new kind of business. The PawsLikeMe mission is to support our communities through positive social change, and to empower anyone willing to make a difference in the animal welfare space. Being able to help animals in need, and increasing our understanding of the human/canine relationship, has been a tremendous feeling for the PawsLikeMe team.
M.M.: Where do you hope PawsLikeMe will be in ten years?
E.H.: PawsLikeMe’s long-term vision is two-fold: first we see a future where shelters are no longer overwhelmed and innocent animals are no longer put to rest due to overcrowded facilities; and second, we see a future where all pets are considered unique individuals, just like people.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is considering adopting a pet?
E.H.: My best advice for someone considering adopting a pet is to take the time to really consider your lifestyle, home environment and personal preferences. Although the decision to get a dog can seem light on the surface, it’s actually a long-term commitment much like a human mate. The consequences of a bad decision can be difficult for everyone involved. Consider that the breed characteristics that we traditionally use to define the personalities of dogs are usually not even applicable in the context of adoption. Over 75% of shelter pets are mixed breeds, so breed traits just don’t apply. But even among true purebred dogs, there can be huge variations in individual personalities. Don’t decide on a dog based on looks either, much like with people, looks and first impressions can be deceiving.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming events you would like to mention?
E.H.: Not at this time. Thank you for this opportunity and for your very thoughtful questions. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need more information.
* * * * *
To learn more, visit their official website, Facebook and Twitter. They can also be followed on Instagram via @PawsLikeMe