Updated on 03-21-2016 by Lulu Chang: In a move that finally recognizes that love isn’t just between a human and a dog, online pet adoption platform PawsLikeMe has plans to add cats to its database of adorable animals. After a successful launch in the fall of 2015, PawsLikeMe is seeking to extend its mammalian matchmaking services to felines, as long as you promise to help by way of their Indiegogo campaign.
“Ever since we started our company, the vision has always been to add cats into our platform,” said Elizabeth Holmes, co-founder and CEO of PawsLikeMe. “However, there are special considerations to take into account when you’re working with a different species. We’ve now developed the inner workings of a cat algorithm which will power our new assessment, but we need additional support to bring the product to market.”
The need for such a platform is particularly high as kitten season approaches — it’s estimated that of the 3.4 million cats that enter shelters every years, 41 percent are ultimately euthanized. PawsLikeMe, however, promises to give animal rescues and shelters a new resource with which to find homes for their pets.
“We want people to look at animal adoption differently,” said Marianna Benko, co-founder and CCO of PawsLikeMe. “Instead of focusing on physical qualities, we’re looking below the surface and identifying key factors which determine compatibility between a person and their cat, including the person’s lifestyle and the animal’s individual personality.”
Original Post: Sometimes your soulmate is your pet. For devoted animal lovers who can attest to the fact that dogs really are man’s (and woman’s) best friends, finding the the canine love of your life can be an arduous process. After all, it’s a commitment — you wouldn’t just pick up anybody’s poop off the ground, now would you? But sometimes, finding the right dog can be as (if not more) difficult than finding the right human partner, which is why new online pet adoption platform PawsLikeMe is helping give “dogs a second chance at a forever home … using a proven algorithm with a more than 90 percent accuracy rate in predicting people-to-pet compatibility.” Basically, eHarmony for pets.
Operating under the belief that “personality is more than fur deep,” PawsLikeMe, which launched at the end of the September, goes beyond asking what breed you prefer or what size dog you can handle. Instead, it has “adopters complete a three-minute personality quiz, enter their ZIP code, and then have their results stacked up against the personality profiles of dogs that are available for adoption in the area.”
Their proprietary personality test, which borrows from dating sites like eHarmony and OKCupid’s algorithmic approach to matchmaking, is founded upon “four core personality traits that influence the human-canine bond: energy, focus, confidence and independence.” Of course, since dogs can’t actually answer these questions themselves (if only), the person re-homing the pet or the shelter fills this out on the animal’s behalf.
“The series of questions looks at how the dog behaves, its preferences, and how the dog reacts based on interactions with people, other pets, and different environments,” co-founder and PawsLikeMe CEO told me via email. “A human score is correlated to a dog’s score, we scale it and make it relative to each personality trait (focus, independence, energy, confidence) and then a matching percentage in each category is determined. By partnering an expert in animal behavior and an expert in human/social behavior we were able to create the perfect algorithm!”
In a press release, PawLikeMe notes, “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.”
With up to 8 million animals entering U.S. shelters every year and around 50 percent of them ultimately euthanized as a result of space constraints or other considerations, adoption platforms like PawsLikeMe that seek to both keep animals out of shelters or place them in loving homes can be incredibly useful and, for many dogs, life-saving. And because all dogs participating in PawsLikeMe must be spayed or neutered, the site is also helping to keep animal population numbers under control.
“It is too early to place any statistical significance on the re-homing program because it just launched in August,” Holmes admitted. “But the matching algorithm launched in January and appears to play a huge role in improved outcomes in terms of pet retention. This is based on the tremendous positive feedback we have received from our shelter partners and adopters.”
Ultimately, to ensure that dogs are provided and kept in loving homes, Holmes says, “People need to be empowered with the knowledge, tools, and support needed to be active and responsible participants in their pets’ lives.” And with PawsLikeMe, that empowering process can begin.