Friday, August 22, 2008

Find a Friend from Home

AAAG Staff Report: I recently started a journey to find a new friend for our home. From the comfort of my home, and with my trusty computer and a big cup of coffee, I spent hours searching the various humane societies for just the right guy.

How? It's so easy. Just go to Petfinder.com and let the search begin. After entering all of the information on the type of animal, age, gender, and general location, I was overwhelmed by how many pets I could see. Not only did I see pictures of the little tykes, I also was able to read some of their stories. What a great way to let your fingers pick out the candidates for our home!

I was lucky. One animal was located who was in the care of the Georgia Heartland Humane Society. I filled out the application and waited. Soon, the call came and a visit was scheduled. I was thrilled as I already have one pet which was rescued by this group.

Sadly, this pet just didn't click with the family. Or, should I say, we didn't click with him. I'm not worried about the little guy as there was already another family waiting to spend some time with him.

Back on the Petfinder site I went. In a matter of a few minutes, I found new pets to consider. Once again, I filled out the paperwork and was contacted a few days later with the news that I had been approved to adopt a pet.

This time, I drove over to the Henry County Humane Society where they had an abundance of dogs I could visit. After four hours of sitting with the different candidates, the family left with a new love. We actually could have left after only one hour as the little guy who came home with us had already packed his bag and had it waiting by the door. I guess he was thinking we were just a little slow. After all, why look any further? He was just perfect, and we finally agreed with him.

It was a great experience. No longer did I have to drive around in hopes of finding a new family member, or be disappointed when I didn't find any dogs. Using Petfinder greatly reduced the amount of time we had to spend searching for a new pet, and we didn't waste a tank of gas or more and lots of precious weekends searching.

I will leave you with an article written by Petfinder some time ago. They say it so much better than I can.

Petfinder.com Gives Shelter Pets New Byte

Over 250,000 homeless pets in approximately 11,000 animal placement organizations across the U.S. and Canada have their own homepages, thanks to one of the most unifying initiatives to ever hit animal welfare--Petfinder.com, the oldest and largest searchable directory of adoptable pets on the Web.

From the comfort of their own homes, pet seekers enter their search criteria, such as size, gender, breed and age, and get back a list of adoptable pets ranked in proximity to the searcher's Zip code. Updated continuously by the animal welfare volunteers and staff themselves, the Web site gives potential adopters a photograph, a description of the animal and contact information.

Shelters and rescue group members also have their own home pages on the site. Many of them attribute over 50% of their adoptions to Petfinder.com. Some have reported that their euthanasia rate dropped significantly within months of joining Petfinder.com. They also report that Petfinder.com adoptions are more successful, with fewer pets returned. This may be because the adopter's choice is more informed.

"Many people find visiting shelters traumatic, especially those who feel guilty when they can't take all the pets home," says Betsy Saul, who developed the site with her husband, Jared, in January 1996 as a New Year's Resolution to help homeless pets. "Petfinder.com allows you to focus your search from home, which makes finding your new best friend much easier." The site went national in August 1998. Petfinder.com, a labor of love for the Sauls, was the first searchable directory for homeless pets.

Thanks to its sponsors, Petfinder.com is free to use. Animal shelters and rescue groups can register to join Petfinder.com online and can start entering pets the same day. Purina signed on as the Web site's premier sponsor. Purina provides nutrition and pet care information for Petfinder.com's online libraries and assists in marketing efforts, helping to spread the word about the thousands of pets that need a new home.

Other exclusive sponsors are BISSELL Homecare, Inc., a manufacturer of home cleaning and floor care products, PETCO, a national pet supply retailer that sponsors in-store adoptions and provides coupon books for new adopters, The Animal Rescue Site, which contributes a percentage of sales of Petfinder merchandise to the Petfinder.com Foundation, and Merial, maker of the number one veterinary-recommended flea and tick preventative FRONTLINE®, and heartworm preventative HEARTGARD®.

Petfinder.com, whose founders are scientists by training, not business people, is among the busiest sites on the Internet. The Sauls attribute their site's success not only to hard work, but also to the press. "We never had to spend a dime on advertising," says Betsy Saul, who admits it was a good thing since, at the time they created the site, they didn't have any dimes to spare. "As soon as we launched and the press first got a glimpse of the site, we've been in a race to keep up with ourselves."

Petfinder.com was named one of the 300 best Web sites by Forbes magazine and one of the top 100 sites by Family PC magazine. It has repeatedly gotten top ratings from Internet tracking companies, including the most visited site among all U.S Web sites in the Hitwise Lifestyle - Pets and Animals category. The site has also been featured in most major magazines and newspapers, and their have been features on .The Today Show. and .The Ellen DeGeneres Show..

The Petfinder.com Foundation was established in 2003 to assist animal welfare organizations in time of need. Under the auspices of the Foundation, the Petfinder.com staff worked 24/7 to create an online database of pets rescued during the devastating hurricanes of 2005. It was the largest collaborative effort in animal welfare history with many agencies cooperating. "The site is a virtual shelter," says Jared Saul. "It is being able to sit down with your family and visit hundreds of shelters, get to know the pets, and not have to drive all around to do it. When someone finally does go to meet a pet because of Petfinder.com, they are more likely to be well suited for each other. What better use of the Web?"

In 2006, Discovery Communications Inc. acquired Petfinder.com, and the site became part of the Animal Planet family.

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