The creators of PawsLikeMe.com have a simple mission: to help potential dog parents find their perfect dog match.
“70% of pets are re-homed at least once in their lifetime,” said Elizabeth Holmes, CEO and co-founder of PawsLikeMe. “Our genuine hope is that by providing a better way of matching pets with their new families, we can change that and find them not just a home, but the right home. My co-founders are a veterinary animal behaviorist and a social worker with a psychology specialization. They combined their skillsets to develop our proprietary personality assessment.”
PawsLikeMe is a search engine for finding pets, created with a unique system that matches pets and people using an algorithm that has been proven to be more than 90% accurate. The program, founded in 2014 by Holmes, Marianna Benko, and Coleen Johnston, also provides a simple pet re-homing program for individuals and families who need to find a new home for their pet or a pet in need.
PawsLikeMe works with shelters/rescue groups and other adoption agencies to help pair pets with the best possible pet parents. And donates 50% of the adoption fee for pets referred to the re-homing service. Pet parents can create profiles on the website and get advice, resources, and products. The website also integrates with other social networks such as Facebook and YouTube.
Placing more pets
So far, 143 shelters have enrolled to use the program and help place more pets.
Unfortunately, many pets need more than one chance to find their forever home. Pets are often given up for a variety of reasons ranging from the death of the owner to a move overseas. Sometimes owners can’t handle behavior issues or give up a dog when they have a baby or find the dog and small children aren’t compatible.
Other times, there is a personality mismatch between the adopter and pet, Holmes said. And that’s a problem that PawsLikeMe.com is trying to fix.
It only takes a few minutes to fill out the PawsLikeMe online profile to find your perfect match. When I did it, I was amazed to see my perfect match description is incredibly similar to my sweet Sydney, an Australian Shepherd-Corgi mix I adopted seven years ago.
Veronica LaVista-Trotter, the educational outreach and dog adoption coordinator for the SPCA of North Brevard in Florida, said the shelter’s experience working with PawsLikeMe has been positive. In addition to entering personality profiles of available dogs, LaVista-Trotter also has referred people to the website when they need to rehome their dogs.
“For so long, we’ve had to just put people on a waiting list; it’s wonderful to have new options,” she said.
Janice MacRossin, executive director of the Helotes Humane Society in Texas, said her foster-home based shelter is overwhelmed by people who need to find new homes for their dogs. So she’s excited to have found another resource to help.
“Unfortunately we can’t take every dog and have to say no a lot,” she said. “It’s good to have another option to give people to re-home a dog. Every avenue to find these dogs homes is welcome. I applaud them for giving it a try.”
Finding a new home
Kate Gales signed up with PawsLikeMe to find a new home for Manzanita, a 6-year-old retriever-border collie mix.
But then she got married and had two children. Manzanita has had trouble adjusting to the change and has become aggressive toward her husband’s aging dog. Before making the decision to rehome Mazanita, Gale worked with an animal behaviorist. When they couldn’t fix the issues, the behaviorist recommended using an online rehoming service and suggested PawsLikeMe.com.
Gale said the site was the most user-friendly.
“It is also the only rehoming website that I’ve seen that allows you to create a profile and upload pet photos, and then post that information for prospective owners to view. I really liked that PawsLikeMe is an involved interface between pet owner and prospective pet owner; in fact, I was having an email conversation with PawsLikeMe within two days of submitting Manzanita’s profile. We worked together to make sure his profile was just right. I liked that people with names on the other side of the website regularly heard from them. It was reassuring during this emotional process.”
She’s confident she’ll be able to find a new home for Manzanita. “So far, this service takes much of the burden off of my shoulders, particularly the challenging part of exposure. Getting Manzanita out there
as much as possible is what this service is skilled at doing, and matching him appropriately to prospective owners. Once that happens, then I can make the ultimate decision about whether they get to take him home or not.”
Making a tough decision
Deciding to find a new home for her dog has been a tough process. “It’s been several years since we consulted with the first behaviorist,” Gale said. “My husband knows now to expect me to
be grumpy for a while after I’ve been doing something related to rehoming Manzanita. The way I see it now is that my commitment to Manzanita as his human mom is to ensure the highest quality of life, even if it is not with me.”
The PawsLikeMe founders understand giving up a pet is difficult, and that’s why they want to make the transition as smooth as possible.
“Re-homing a pet isn’t easy for anyone, but we have created an empowering situation where an owner surrendering their animal can feel comforted in knowing the pet will be going to a good match,” said Holmes. “We’ve been there, and we know it’s a heartbreaking situation for all involved. We’re here to be a resource and a matchmaker to create the safest and happiest situation for animals and the people who care for them.”
Sara B. Hansen has spent the past 20-plus years as a professional editor and writer. She’s also the author of The Complete Guide to Cocker Spaniels. She decided to create her dream job by launching Dog’s Best Life. Sara grew up with family dogs, and since she bought her first house, she’s had a furry companion or two to help make it a home. She shares her heart and home with Nutmeg, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy. Her previous dogs: Sydney (September 2008-April 2020), Finley (November 1993-January 2008), and Browning (May 1993-November 2007). You can reach Sara @ [email protected].