GetPet
There are plenty of fish in the sea — and dogs! (Illustration by James O'Toole, Grand Valley State University)

A Tinder for Dog Adoptions? The World Is Swiping Right on GetPet

It’s Tinder — for pets!

For those of you who can’t get enough of Tinder, there’s a new app you might love even more: GetPet. Released about a month ago, GetPet is a pet-adoption app that specifically targets dog lovers, allowing you to swipe left or right (sound familiar?) on canine companions you might be interested in adopting.

Just like how Tinder allows users to choose a suitable match from a wide selection of humans, the app GetPet allows users to scroll through profiles of dogs from local shelters and displays relevant information such as age, breed, temperament and medical history. If you chance upon a dog you might be interested in adopting, the app then arranges a meetup between you and your potential new best friend. There is one drawback, however: GetPet is only available to download in Lithuania.

But if you don’t hold Lithuanian citizenship, don’t worry! There are plenty of other apps like GetPet available in your country with the same concept and format. BarkBuddy works exactly like GetPet in that it focuses on finding homes for dogs, while others such as WeRescue, Furry Friend Finder Pet Rescue and adopets allow you to search for cats, dogs, birds, reptiles and more. Users can customize their search by filtering location, animal, breed, gender and even size to fit their preferences.

With GetPet as the latest addition to a collection of pet-adoption apps, it’s clear that there is an international market for discovering animals in need of a home right from the comfort of your phone. It’s a burgeoning yet creative venture that uses technology while giving animals a fair chance at finding a forever home. As amazing as the concept sounds, there are some valid concerns about the apps.

Currently, there are only about 10 pet-adoption apps available on the App Store, which indicates just how small the niche is, and the software is frequently underdeveloped. Besides the limited number of apps to choose from, most reviewers write that they loved the overall concept of the apps but not the execution of the interface itself. Among the list of complaints submitted included inaccurate location searches, unappealing profile photos of the animals and overly simplistic features.

Adopting a pet is a serious — not to mention permanent — decision, so apps like GetPet would understandably come across as superficial to those skeptical of its uses, similar to when people criticized the impersonal qualities of dating apps like Tinder. However, if there’s anything good to come out of the Tinderpocalypse of 2014, it’s that GetPet and apps like it allow for easier accessibility when it comes to choosing from a pool of adorable candidates.

The mechanics of the platforms require fine-tuning, for sure, but the end goal of finding animals homes is one people shouldn’t give up on. That’s not to say that the apps are appropriate replacements for actual research online, but they do serve as a supplemental and more convenient way of finding pets that you might be interested in. For obvious reasons, animals can’t swipe left or right when it comes to finding an owner, which is why research is so critical.

Longevity poses another issue for pet-adoption apps. Users are only interested in them for adopting one or two animals, so by the time developers improve the mechanics of the app, people might have already deleted it or tried out a competitor’s. It’s a unique situation that can be fixed by marketing the apps better in order to continuously reel in fresh customers. In addition, if developers can resolve interface issues in a timely manner and listen to their client base, those same users will be more willing to share the app with friends.

Another way that GetPet and other pet-adoption apps can attract more users is by partnering with local animal shelters. The SOS Gyvunai shelter in Vilnius, Lithuania, has already helped find homes for animals because of GetPet. Ilona Reklaityte, the shelter’s founder, praised the app’s effectiveness, saying, “I really welcome this new app as it gives us more chances to find our pets new owners and a new home, and that means we can then help other dogs still on the streets.”

Since the release of GetPet, the app has received hundreds of downloads every day and serves as a great example of how app developers and animal shelters can combine their resources to suit both people and pets alike.

Despite their flaws, pet-adoption apps should still be given the opportunity to flourish because of the ever-present epidemic of homeless animals. Approximately 6.5 million pets enter U.S. animal shelters each year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

The struggling shelters can only do so much with their overcrowded cages, limited budget and uneven ratio between animals dropped off and those adopted. Some shelters even resort to euthanizing healthy animals because they simply lack room and board for all of them. While the percentage of euthanized and shelter-bound animals has decreased since 2011, that shouldn’t stop efforts to find a home for every pet.

Adoption apps could be a game-changer in the way people find their future pets, especially when you consider the already tedious process of regular pet adoption. There are flaws in the functionality of animal-adoption apps, but the advantages far exceed the easily fixable missteps. Apps like GetPet can remove some of the burdensome obstacles of pet adoption and bring you one step closer to finding your perfect match.

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