Feb. 1, 2016 2:13 pm

This app mobilizes neighbors when Fido runs away

FurAlert is like Amber Alert for pets, but it wouldn't work without community support.

"What's that, Lassie? Timmy fell down the well?"

(Photo by Flickr user lazybitez, used under a Creative Commons license)

There’s no silver bullet for finding a lost animal. But there’s an app for it, and it relies on friendly neighbors to work.
The reporter's pup gets a little grumpy after bath time.

The reporter’s pup gets a little grumpy after bathtime.

Created by Philly New Tech Meetup co-organizer Cory Donovan, FurAlert is kind of like Amber Alert for lost pets: When Fido runs away, FurAlert enables his owner to notify and crowdsource help from fellow FurAlert users inside a given radius.

“Sixty-eight percent of U.S. homes have a pet,” Donovan said. “[That means] nearly 70 percent of the people walking around would help someone locate their pet — they just don’t know that person needs help.”

Donovan launched FurAlert in January for both iPhone and Android for free two weeks ago. He said he built the app after temporarily losing his dogs two years ago when someone left his back gate open.

Here’s the thing: The app is useless if those with lost pets are the only ones in their neighborhoods who use the app. Community support is “innate to the function” of FurAlert, Donovan said.

“Within 15 seconds, you send an alert and complete strangers come out of nowhere to help you look. That’s a tremendous scenario,” Donovan said. “If we can mobilize that kind of response and alleviate that anxiety the owner feels, that’s pretty cool.”

Donovan said he’s actively looking for feedback and folks to help test the app.

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