Walkzee, the first online platform connecting shelter dogs in need of a walk to dog lovers looking for a walking buddy has surpassed its goal on Kickstarter and are getting ready to launch June 2015! (don’t worry, you can still donate!)
There ingenious site will allow shelter dogs to get out and about, instead of being stuck behind a fence day after day. This means the dog will be getting attention, love, socialization and will be getting a seen – a large factor in whether they are adopted out or not!
A Honeymoon, a Humane Society and Fate
The owners, Charlie and Crissy Saunders got the idea for the business while on their honeymoon. Sounds strange, right? Fate clearly had a hand in this one.
While in Kauai, Hawaii, the couple were thinking about how nice it would have been to have a dog to take on hikes. A wrong turn took them to the doorstep of the Humane Society in Kauai. That was when they say a big sign that said “Dog Field Trips.”
It must have been fate, the couple says.
The next day they went inside the humane society and decided to take out a big lab mix name Big Z.
“While on the walk we talked about how amazing the program was,” Charlie says. “Big Z was getting out of the shelter and was just so happy, and we were spending time with a dog having an amazing day. Meanwhile, we were also getting lots of people coming up to us and asking about what we were doing (as Big Z had an “adopt me” vest on). So to add to the endless list of benefits Big Z was also getting lots of exposure to potential adopters!”
They talked about the program the rest of their trip and decided to look into it more when they got back from their trip.
“Then on the plane on the way home we started sketching what the website would look like,” Charlie continued. “Which got us even more excited about the idea and at that point we decided we would commit to figuring out if walkzee was feasible and as soon as we got back we started working on it.”
From there, it took a lot of planning to launch their Kickstarter, which has done remarkably well.
By the way, the “Zee” in walkzee is for Big Z!
How it Works
Simply go to the walkzee’s website, search the area you want to find a dog to walk, choose the dog to walk and the request a walk from the shelter – it’s that simple. The shelter approve the walk based on their rules. You will be required to bring ID and any other paperwork the shelter requires.
You can adopt your new friend, if you wish, or review your experience share him on social media so you can help him find his new home.
Do you think it will help with adoption numbers?
Charlie: Absolutely! At the Kauai Humane Society they told us that many adoptions had be facilitated by their program. The model we are replicating with walkzee.
We see adoptions being driven by:
- Bigger reach as the walking stories will be shared on social media
- More exposure to potential adopters on the walks (and the walkers who will fall in love on the walk – it’s impossible not too!)
- The dogs become more used to people, walking, traffic, other dogs etc so are more adoptable
- The dogs get out of their cage and get exercise which helps remove some of the behavioral issues with being locked up most of the day
- The walkers review the dogs for others to see so the dogs can get better placed in homes based on their unique characteristics
Now that you are funded, what’s the next step? How soon can people use the app?
Charlie: Next steps are:
- 2nd phase of development of the site. Which includes things like: integration to Petfinder, mobile responsive design, Paypal integration (so shelters can take donations directly for free!) and more flexibility in the scheduling and contact system so shelters of all shapes and sizes can use walkzee.
- During this phase of development we will be working with shelters to ensure we are building the tool to their needs. While also signing up shelters for our launch.
We will then launch in June!
Will it be available everywhere immediately, or are you starting out in certain US city/states?
Charlie: Walkzee will be available everywhere, but obviously only with participating shelters. We will start with a certain number and will grow the numbers over the course of the year and beyond.
Any thoughts on doing this worldwide?
Charlie: Absolutely! We actually have interested shelters in both Australia and South Africa. However, we will focus our shelter outreach to the US, but would love to hear from shelters around the world and we can definitely include them in walkzee!
Whatever Happened to Big Z?
Big Z actually got adopted and his owner got in touch with us it is a nice to see everything come full circle and Big Z is happy!
Charlie said they get a lot of questions about security for the dogs and walkers. He assures us there are polices in place.
Charlie: Also people ask us a lot about security and we are about to come out with more information on this topic, but it maybe worth mentioning that we actually aim to make volunteering more safe for the dogs and the walkers. Having the walkers profile online, linking to facebook and ability to track IP Addresses if something went wrong means that shelters can scope out potential walkers before
About the Author
Based in Wilsonville, Ore., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and a member of the Dog Writers Association of America. She is the founder of A Fairytail House. In her spare time, she trains and competes in a variety of performance events with her Shetland Sheepdogs and caters to her two rescue kitties. She smartly married a Veterinary Technician, who helps keep the fur kids happy and healthy, and provides a quick resource for articles.
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