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AllPaws: It’s Like Tinder But for Dog Adoption

The new iPhone app lets people find new pets just like Tinder helps find first dates.

Chris Hall  |  Nov 4th 2014


Considering how successful the dating app Tinder has been in helping people find partners to hook up with, it seems like it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the doggy equivalent.

Well, that time is here. Pet adoption site AllPaws.com has come up with an app that lets people browse through more than 200,000 dogs, cats, and other animals in search of the perfect one to adopt. AllPaws lets you filter your search by a number of variables.

Location is an important one, of course, because few people are going to drive from Seattle to a shelter in Albuquerque for their new pup. But searches can get much more specific, looking for breed, size, whether they’ve been neutered and vaccinated, and how well they get on with other animals. Once you’ve found the animal that suits your heart’s desire, you can text the shelter directly for more info.

Anything that gets more animals adopted is good. There’s hardly a shortage of dogs and cats waiting for new homes in shelters across the country. And most shelters have put the Internet to good use to make the adoption process friendlier and more accessible.

Stephanie Shain, of the Washington Humane Society, told Slate that she sees the app as having great potential for getting more people interested in adoption. “Just getting those pictures in front of people is a terrific first step, because you’re halfway there once they’re looking,” Shain said.

If you can get the pictures, of course. People who have an iPhone that is not the latest model might want to beware, at least until later releases or until they upgrade. I decided to do a quick test of the app myself, and it wasn’t encouraging: It crashed while I was trying to do the initial sign-up. Fortunately, it seems like AllPaws.com got my info before the app tanked, and my login was valid according to the site. But then I tried to log in with the app, and it crashed repeatedly while it was “Retrieving pets.” Four times. So far, I haven’t managed to log in.

Keep in mind, I have an iPhone 4S that is getting a little long in the tooth, but still, it’s an example of a rule that more developers should remember: Have pity on the people with crappy hardware. More backward compatibility, guys. Not all of us can rush out to buy the shiny stuff as soon as the shrink-wrap has cooled. Especially those of us who, for whatever incomprehensible reason, are trying to make money writing about dogs.

That’s too bad, because I would have liked to see the AllPaws app in action. It’s a good idea to bring the shelter closer to people via their devices.

At the same time, I wonder if it might make people’s adoption hunts narrower. There are already problems with people favoring some dogs over others. Dogs are less likely to get adopted if they’re old or disabled, or just not photogenic enough. The fine-grained search function may well allow people to just completely bypass those kinds of dogs altogether.

However, according to Slate, Shain thinks I’m wrong. “This could even be a win for the less photogenic pooches,” Laura Bradley writes. “Darker dogs are said to take longer to get adopted, perhaps because it’s harder to photograph them — a phenomenon some shelter workers call Black Dog Syndrome. An app like this brings people in to see one dog, but also means they’ll walk in and meet several others.”

For those of you who can get AllPaws to work on your phone, let us know about your experience. Do you think it encourages people to look at more kinds of dogs, or fewer? You can search for animals at the AllPaws website, FYI.

Via Slate and iTunes App Store

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