Pet Adoption App for CAP

#swiperight4justice

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App Aided Pet Adoption

The primary feature of this app is to give a quick and mobile way to search for any of the pets that are in your system. With an estimated 1 million pets in the Houston area, you need a way for the population of Houston to find their dream pet [1]. In March alone, BARC took in 2,331 animals. Of this two thousand animals, only 607 were adopted [1]. This is an adoption rate of 26%. We believe our app can increase your adoption rate.


The main focus of this portion of the app will meet three goals:


  • Have intuitive use
  • be able to intake search criteria
  • have wide database search capabilities



The first of these goals, intuitive use is done with the layout. Large buttons to press and a top to bottom layout for the search fields will allow for ease of use and to not be frustrating. The app will have a simple layout with multiple search fields to choose from. This will allow them to choose their preferred animal, energy level, breed, size, gender, and to some extent personality. These parameters will allow the system to match to any pet in the system. These search criteria are the most important part for allowing this app to work. If your users can’t access the pets that you have according to what they are looking for, then they can’t find the perfect pet to adopt. The app will also access a database that has all the pets from across the CAP locations. This wide reach of the data base will enable the user to search all over the Houston area at the CAP campuses in order to find the pet that they want.


In a way this app functions similar to a dating app. When the user sets their preferences, the app matches them to a pet that fits the criteria that they are looking for. A Pew research study has shown that 15% of the adult population in the US have used a dating app [2]. If this app can get anywhere near 15% increase in usage, the number of pets that will be adopted will increase as well. While 15 percent doesn’t seem like a lot, using the BARC numbers, adoption goes from 600 pets adopted to 700 pets adopted per month. A simple increase like this means that the organization can continue to fulfill its vision of caring for and protecting homeless and helpless animals.


An increase in adoptions also means that there is an increase not only in your revenue and spending but in the revenue of business around the city. Derek Thompson form The Atlantic wrote that back in 2012, Americans spent upwards of $50 billion on their pets [3]. This money went to those in the community providing these services, which can range from locals stores to startups to name brand stores. An overall increase in the number of pets in a community means that people and businesses both are benefitting.

Person to Person Adoption

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When you no longer can take proper care of a pet, the best you could do is to take it to a shelter where they can find a great home for it. Unfortunately, shelters will not always have room for all the animals that are brought in everyday. According to an article written by SponsorAdoptions, most animal shelters are often at their maximum capacity [4]. According to another article by the ASPCA, there is an average of about 7.6 million pets that enter shelters annually [5]. Compare that number to the roughly 13,600 shelters nationwide and you can see the reason they are overflowing. This is a very serious issue that, if fixed, could help save millions of animal lives.


A proposed solution to this issue is to have a feature in our app that gives the user the option to do a person to person adoption, instead of going to the shelter. This will help with the overflowing of the shelters since the animals will be at the hands of the owners until adopted. The following three criteria must be met in order for this solution to take into full effect.


1. The feature must be user-friendly

2. Both the person putting the pet up for adoption and the person adopting must be content during and after the adoption process

3. Help save more animal lives


The solution proposed meets the first criteria because it will be made using a very simple familiar layout. The layout will work similarly to the likes of Amazon, eBay, Autotrader, and many other search databases that are popular in todays market. This feature of the app also meets the second criteria by its simplicity. Making the whole process user-friendly minimizes the amount of problems encountered during the process, which leads to having more satisfied users. The final criteria is met by this solution simply because of the way the feature will be structured. This part of the app gives the user more options for animals they can adopt, or to put up for adoption. That itself can only lead to more animals being saved and not the other way around.


Some of the positive effects for adopting this feature, like mentioned previously, is that it is guaranteed to increase the amount of animal lives saved. This is crucial since it's the single most important goal to this organization. Some of the negative effects if this part of the app is not integrated, is that it could increase the amount of overflow that shelters are already experiencing. One negative to incorporating this part of the app is the want to return pets. In this part of the app only, there will be a "no return" policy. All adoptions made through this feature will be final. If adopting through the shelter, then you will follow the proper guidelines. The reason that there is a "no return" policy is to minimize the amount of people that simply adopt and return immediately after the adoption for no apparent reason or because they weren't prepared for the responsibilities. This will also make the people interested in adopting, more likely to research said pets ahead of time and getting a chance to meet them in person if nearby.


As you can see, there is almost no negative effects to using such a feature in our app and, on the contrary, it actually helps save many more lives than ever thought possible. Because the databases will not only be locally but combined with other pet databases around the nation, the amount of pets that could be reached is endless. It will also be easier than ever before because of the familiarity and simplicity seen in other popular apps.

Missing-Pet Finder and Found-Pet Application Subsections

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In previous years efforts such as the implementation of AMBER alerts nation-wide as well as by the government and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to centralize the information about missing persons has “greatly increased the efficacy of many missing-person searches” [6]. If instances of centralizing systems to find missing persons has has such great success, the same improvements can greatly help the way pet owners find their missing pets.

While the availability and use of RFID chips has begun to ease some of the strain of finding a lost pet, because the technology is still “relatively new” and “potentially costly for some pet-owners” as well as the technology's dependence on veterinarians to get the pet home, it becomes clear that another system that anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, disposable income, or proximity to veterinarian, can use to find their loved, missing pet [7]. Some qualities this system need to ensure its purpose is met are: an application or menu within the application that will house the Missing-Pet Finder application, the ability to upload a picture of the pet as well as input general information about the missing pet such as size, age and characteristics, as well as a section for people that have found missing pets to upload pictures and information much in the same way that owners of missing pets can search for their pet, and then a private messaging service to facilitate the safe return of the pet in the case the owner finds them through the service.

With our planned application, all of the needs for a missing-pet finder are satisfied and the potential gains to pet owners are large. Within the larger pet owner application we are developing, there will be a subsection within the application that will be called the Missing-Pet Finder, in which a grid of missing pet pictures will be shown. Users can make an account and then post information about their missing pet or pet they have found if needed. If an owner sees their missing pet or if a person who finds a missing pet matches the pets profile to the pet, they can then message the other person through the application to make arrangements for the return of the pet. The two subsections of the Pet-Finder section, Missing-Pet and Found-Pet, will be separated and easily distinguishable to ensure clarity.

If our application is implemented, pet owners and those who love animals will have a substantially easier job of finding their own missing pets or helping pets they've found return home. There is also the possibility of utilizing “facial recognition software” within the application to “compare picture of pets” from their owners with those provided by the person who finds the dog to ensure the found pet is sent to the right home [8]. The application can also be used right alongside other seasoned forms of pet tracking such as RFID chips to ensure that the problem of feral animals does not remain a problem and animals in shelters are not constantly under the shadow of the needle.

With all of the information that has been presented and the intricacy of the problem that this application seeks to address, we hope that you consider our all-in-one pet application and the Missing-Pet Finder and Found-Pet subsections that will be within it and consider the potential pain and suffering that can be alleviated from some of the furry animals that help to take away our stress and sadness as well as for their owners as well.

Virtual Private Server Backend

Frontend app features are only as powerful as the backend service that drives them. With 3.3 billion internet users using close to a total three billion gigabytes of data per day, any viable app must have a robust infrastructure to support its features [9]. In order for the Pet Finder app backend to sufficiently serve the requests of the frontend features, it must satisfy the following criteria:


  1. The server must handle millions of clients per day.

  2. The database must efficiently and effectively facilitate the frontend features of the app.

  3. The system must provide a method to give lost animals adoption eligibility after a reasonable amount of time.


The backend for the Pet Finder app is a virtual private server (VPS). It is hosted by a cloud provider, meaning that Citizens for Animal Protection does not need dedicated hardware to operate the app. One candidate for VPS hosting is Rackspace, a highly-respected, effective cloud provider that offers very reasonable prices. According to their website, their I/O optimized servers, most effective for the high number of database queries required by the frontend, cost only $3.84 per hour, providing ten gigabits per second of bandwidth [10].


As lost animals are found or pets are returned to shelters, the animals and their GPS coordinates are recorded in the VPS Backend database. Based on the location of potential pet owners, nearby pets will be included in search results, using the square sum of GPS coordinates to compare distances. If an animal in the database is a lost pet, after a thirty day waiting period, the animal gains adoption eligibility. This is to provide a balance of giving pet owners a reasonable time period to find their lost pets and giving unclaimed pets another chance at adoption.


As for meeting the requirements of the Pet Finder backend, the VPS passes with flying colors. Because of the compartmentalization of VPS machines, scaling the service capacity is as simple as copying the server software to more machines. By adding more virtual machines, the maximum service grows essentially linearly. Because the database requirements of the frontend features are consolidated into a centralized database, all of the features can benefit from all of the information about the animals in the system. This allows for flexibility, such as the final requirement of conversion from a lost pet to an adoptable animal, as previously stated.


Some concerns about the system include fear that lost pets will be prematurely adopted by new owners. However, each animal entered into the VPS database is registered with a timestamp signifying when it was added. Lost pets will not appear in adoption search results until a full thirty days have passed, so this fear is unwarranted. Additionally, some may worry that pet finding apps give more visually appealing animals an unfair advantage, but the database will include other aspects of the animals, such as behavior, energy, and habits, thus leveling the playing field.


Clearly, with the reservations addressed, the benefits of the virtual private server sell themselves. The effectiveness of the frontend features supported by the VPS backend will vastly improve the lives of all of the animals registered in the database and users searching for their perfect pet.

Awareness and Public Relations

When it comes to raising awareness, what more modern way than through making of an app? App usage is increasing over time and users are turning away from the browser and relying more on applications. Anyone who relies on reaching out to users should be paying attention to these numbers, and have a strategy to deal with the app issue.[11] The current layout of the animals on your website can also be seen as a need for improvement. The current layout has the animals up for adoption in three columns of their picture with a small bio. While the layout in itself is good for comparison and time efficient, a good match might be overlooked due to the shear amount of pictures.

The appropriate response to this trend would then be to adopt an app for the organization. In order for the app to effectively raise awareness, it must satisfy three criteria;


1. The app must reach out to a wider audience.

2. The app must not be too drastic or veer from the original mission

3. The app must be people friendly


The increasing popularity of apps supports the idea that a wider audience would be reached. Since our app would be styled like dating apps, it is reasonable to compare the success of dating apps like Match.com to the possible success of our app. According to the president Amarnath Thombre, Match.com had registered a 35% increase in the people who use Match through the app each month, and a 109% increase in the number of people who use only the app to reach Match every month[12]. These good results for dating apps suggests a good market for our app. The success of similar pet adoption apps like Fido Pet Adoption achieving 50,000 downloads also supports the idea of reaching to a wider audience.


Adopting an app wouldn’t be too drastic since more organizations and businesses are considering apps as legitimate business tools. The ability of the app to better individualize the customer to product experience is what businesses and organizations find appealing. In this case the “product” wouldn’t be something you’d buy rather a pet you would adopt, and the “customer” would be someone looking to give a pet a new home. What would remain intact of the idea is the fact that the app would help individualize the process of a potential adopter to finding a new pet.


Due to the fact that apps are more commonly used on electronics with smaller screens, (examples being phones and tablets) apps need to be highly organized and simple to use. If this were not the case then the audience wouldn’t want to use the app and would default to the website. The simplicity factor goes hand in hand with a friendly interface, and our app aims to be simple. By making the app simple we would not only make it user friendly, but we would also be reaching out to an audience who might be discouraged at adopting, due to the complexity of the website.

References

Picture: https://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/36792

[1]BARC. "Our Numbers At A Glance." Our Numbers At A Glance. Web. 21 Apr. 2016. <http://www.houstontx.gov/barc/at_a_glance.html>.

[2]Smith, Aaron, and Monica Anderson. "5 Facts about Online Dating." Pew Research Center RSS. 29 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

[3]Thompson, Derek. "These 4 Charts Explain Exactly How Americans Spend $52 Billion on Our Pets in a Year." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 23 Feb. 2013. Web. 01 May 2016.


Picture: pic.1fotonin.com/data/wallpapers/139/WDF_1803128.jpg

[4] "About Us - Sponsor Adoptions, Inc." Sponsor Adoptions Inc. N.p., 22 Sept. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.

[5] "Pet Statistics." ASPCA. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.


Picture: http://weknowyourdreamz.com/images/dog/dog-08.jpg

[6] Blacklidge, Julie. "UNTHSC debuts DNA Database for missing persons." Fort Worth Business Press 16, no. 13 (March 28, 2003): 3. Small Business Reference Center, EBSCOhost(accessed April 22, 2016).

[7] FERNANDEZ, AMY. "LOST." Dog World 95, no. 11 (November 2010): 38-53. Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center, EBSCOhost (accessed April 22, 2016).

[8] "Facial Recognition Lost Pet Identifying System." (20130606 2013):USPTO Patent Applications, EBSCOhost (accessed April 22, 2016).


[9] InternetLiveStats.com. "Internet Usage & Social Media." InternetLiveStats.com. Accessed May 1, 2016. http://www.internetlivestats.com/.

[10] Rackspace Inc. "Cloud Server Pricing." Rackspace Inc. Accessed May 1, 2016. https://www.rackspace.com/cloud/servers/pricing.


Picture: http://www.flurry.com/bid/109749/Apps-Solidify-Leadership-Six-Years-into-the-Mobile-Revolution#.U7qaSI1dUVc

[11] Spence, Ewan. "The Mobile Browser Is Dead, Long Live the App." Forbes. April 02, 2014. Accessed April 20, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2014/04/02/the-mobile-browser-is-dead-long-live-the-app/#60e4a71d6e7d.
[12] Wood, Molly. "Led by Tinder, a Surge in Mobile Dating Apps." The New York Times. February 04, 2015. Accessed April 20, 2016.