Petdom, an online dog adoption portal and app, has made adoption easier and less time consuming for prospective pet owners. With many dogs abandoned at shelters, the team at Petdom encourages adoption as opposed to buying.
If there’s an app for everything – from buying groceries online to finding plumbers – then it’s only logical that there’s an app to adopt a pet too. With the number of abandoned dogs that end up at shelters or with NGOs on the rise, it is becomingly increasingly difficult for these organisations to manage enough food and facilities. The solution is adoption.
The normal process of adoption is time consuming and cumbersome, sometimes driving away potential adopters. This is where Petdom steps in. Launched in January this year, it is a platform that brings together dog shelters and potential owners in a fool-proof setting. It takes the process of dog adoption online and on a mobile app, making it simple to find a nice home for a dog.
People can discover pets from the shelters near them, all with the click of a button.
For Udit Agarwal, who founded Petdom with Abhinav Tyagi, the idea resulted from his own experience when adopting a dog and watching others go through the same lengthy process. “There are no verified sources for finding pets and most of the pet classifieds are occupied by unethical breeders who breed dogs in very bad conditions,” he says, “Also, there are a million healthy pets in shelters waiting to find new homes. We want to enable people to easily find pets around them for adoption and then make the process really easy.”
His team, made up of pet-lovers with corporate and tech backgrounds, is tapping into the large want-to-adopt population in India.
According to Udit, adoption is still quite new and in its nascent stages in India. “Considering people bring home more than 100,000 dogs every year and the number is only increasing, adoption is going to be huge in India,” he says.
In fact, in just two months, the app has met with appreciable success, with more than a 1000 downloads.
“We’ve had a lot of people use our platform with more than a hundred adoption requests in the last 20 days,” he says, elated. “We’ve also had people from Tier B and Tier C cities use our platform. Every day, there is someone or the other in India who wants to adopt a pet. We have about 200+ unique visitors every day and these numbers are growing rapidly.”
With about 225 listings so far, Udit says at least 30 new ones are being added every day.
The Android app and its corresponding website have listings of many dogs and puppies that are up for adoption from shelters, NGOs and other pet owners across India.
“We work with animal organizations like People For Animals, Friendicoes and SPCA all over India,” says Udit. “After a user makes an adoption request on Petdom for a pet, he/she fills up a simple form with details about family and prior experience in having a pet, among other things. We get adopters to upload their house photos on our platform, because house checks are mandatory for a lot of pet parents.”
This information is then sent to the pet shelter organisation or the pet parents at the other end of the process. These shelters review the users and decide if they want to pursue their adoption requests.
Currently, the app and website use Facebook for login purposes to verify potential adopters and those putting up pets for adoption.
“The verifiability is ensured through their Facebook logins first and then the adoption form which asks for more specific details about their house, family, prior pet ownership, purpose of adoption, and the house photos for the shelter,” explains Udit. “This helps us weed out the bad adopters from the really interested ones and also alleviates the time-taking pet adoption process.”
Once the shelter or the pet owner accepts the profile of the user, the prospective adopter can go meet the pet. “It really depends on the adopter and the parent after that, to make multiple visits before the process is completed. We facilitate the process but the final call rests with the shelter,” he says.
“We counsel first time adopters and give them information about the entire pet parenting experience,” Udit says, introducing the concept of concierge services. This includes finding trainers, vets, and food for these pet owners. “Every pet owner has a unique relationship with his/her dog – some want guard dogs and others want them for companionship. We talk to these people and help them find what’s right for them and their pets.”
The team’s focus right now is only on dog adoption, simply because of the massive dog population in shelters in India.
“Our platform could support cats but we are deferring this right now until we can learn more about the entire process and make it even easier for the adopter and the parent,” he says.
The team works in a pet-friendly environment with a lot of stray dogs, and is headquartered in Delhi. It does not charge a single rupee for the use of the app or the website, keeping the process of adoption as welcoming and hassle-free as possible. “However, we do ask people for any donations that they’d like to share with us to keep the servers on and enable us to add more pets for adoption to Petdom,” Udit says.
Speaking of the dog breeds the team runs into most often, Udit says the Indian Pariah dog is ubiquitous in all the shelters. Then there are a lot Labradors, Pomeranians and Golden Retrievers too, many of whom end up injured or abandoned in shelters. “But it’s very hard to find Pugs, Rottweilers, and Dachshunds in shelters because their parents seldom abandon them,” he points out.
However, Udit speaks out for indigenous dogs, upset that most people in India don’t adopt what he calls ‘IndiDogs.’
Source: Wikimedia Commons
“People have their heart set on breeds for various reasons. It’s a huge problem because IndiDogs are very healthy, clean and lovely pets; they will love you as much as any breed dogs,” he explains. “It’s very important that we are able to get this fact across to our users as a lot of the puppies on Petdom are IndiPuppies.”
Other challenges include potential adopters who change their minds at the very last stage. And then there are pet shelters that are hesitant to try out an online platform for adoption.
Yet, the Petdom team is confident that dog adoption will pick up at a great pace once people are comfortable with it, virtually. “Petdom is seeing considerable usage in a very short time, which has also surprised us. We still have to reach out to more people and tell them there’s an easy way to adopt dogs rather than just buying them.”
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