Austin Pets Alive! | This Is a Call for Innovators and Entrepreneurs…

Mar 11, 2022

An estimated one million pets will be dying in shelters this year because they haven’t been adopted—or weren’t kept out of the shelter with safety net programs to support people and pets.

Meanwhile, in some parts of the country, there are not enough cats and dogs for the people who want to adopt them. See the issue?

There is a veterinarian shortage, exacerbated by more people bringing pets into their homes during the pandemic. Vet prices are going up to meet the increased demand. This is leaving more and more people and pets behind.

Underfunded government shelters can’t compete at all. Most are funded at just .2% of city and county budgets. That period is in the right place: .2%. It’s far from enough, given the literal life and death stakes. In this time that veterinary costs are rising, it means—among other things—that pets in shelters are not receiving enough medical care, and sometimes no care at all, which leads to more unnecessary death.

We’ve got a quarter of pet owners saying they’ve had to move because of their pet, and 14% of renters have had to give up their pet because they could not find pet-inclusive housing, that they could afford. We could save millions of pets, with more rentals that are affordable and welcome pets.

These are among the problems that pets, and people, need the brightest minds to solve.

Dr. Jefferson recently spoke with Triple Pundit about how companies and individuals can help end pet homelessness. Read the interview here!

We need tech innovators, entrepreneurs, and pet lovers looking to make a huge impact.

These are not quick or easy projects. These are real global issues that, if solved, will mean a completely new world for pets and the people who love them.

Here are some of the areas where we need your energy and expertise:

  • Tech to connect more people to pets in shelters, especially to help people adopt from shelters in another city or state. This is harder than it sounds—but we know with the right minds at work, excellent products and apps can do this critical job.

  • Tech for shelter resident flow tracking, like the systems used to track hospital patient flow. That will allow shelters to better manage their populations, and develop and meet goals for animals’ survival.

  • An app that will let people use their cell phones to scan pets for microchips, instead of needing to use a specialized device often found only in vets’ offices, police stations, and animal shelters. This app would make it significantly easier to get lost pets back home.

  • Other tech solutions for reuniting lost pets with their families, that anyone of any income can use—such as a free crowdsourcing app that pinpoints a pet’s location.

  • Tech and law to solve for too many vet patients and not enough veterinarians.

  • Business analysts to predict foster and adoptive capacity in any community—then build software to better facilitate pets going into foster and adoptive homes. Especially in communities with more capacity than their local shelters need, this is another instance where tech can save lives by connecting people to pets outside of their local community.

  • Tech support to build industry report cards that help any community see how they are doing in terms of pet ownership and pet equity.

  • Legislative support to overturn laws that allow for adoptable and treatable pets to be euthanized in shelters.

  • Legislative support to overturn laws that stand in the way of lifesaving cat programs like Trap Neuter Return, and to overturn breed-specific legislation—harmful laws that regulate or even prohibit dogs by breed, type, or appearance, and that lead to dogs being unable to find homes, which in turn leads to these dogs’ unnecessary death.

  • Funding for research into treatment for common diseases like distemper that affect hundreds of thousands of pets every year, but are largely overlooked by drug manufacturers.

  • Developing affordable pet products to keep pets occupied while a foster or owner is at work.

  • Affordable, healthy vegan pet food. The pet food industry is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for the rough equivalent of driving 13.6 million cars per year. Yet there is still not a good, cheap, healthy vegan pet food alternative.

  • Entrepreneurs to greatly expand the pool of affordable, pet-inclusive housing, and tech to connect people with rentals where they and their pets can live.

The majority of Americans own at least one pet. And if there is one thing we know, it’s that people LOVE their pets. In a recent national study, 98% of pet owners described their pets as family members who are as important as their human family members.

The pet industry has been growing exponentially to meet those families’ wants and needs. For the past two years, Americans have spent more than $100 billion annually on their pets.

But this boom leaves out a lot of families. Sixty-four percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Almost 1/3 of pet owners can’t afford an unexpected vet bill. Many even struggle to buy food or supplies for their pets.

The government-funded animal shelters there to support pets and people, and to take in pets whose owners can no longer keep them, are drastically underfunded for the role they are there to serve.

In a world where pets are often the most important connection we have in the world, this system is needlessly cruel and inhumane to people and the pets they call family.

So how do we bring the awesomeness of the pet boom to all pets, since we have a shared belief that pets are family? That is where you come in. We know the problems. We need your help developing the tech, entrepreneurial, and legislative solutions that will keep people and pets together, and save pets’ lives.

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