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In The Beginning...

by Andy Koh, April 18th 2008

In A Galaxy Far, Far Away...

Ok - it wasn't that long ago, and neither was it far away. Exactly 1 month back and 2 kilometers away it was.

The journey began from the fateful day of March 18th 2008, when a distress call dragged me to consciousness from deep sleep. My friend, Shan Hui who was staying nearby spotted an injured puppy at the roadside and was frantically trying to figure out the best course of action. According to sources, the poor puppy was likely knocked down by her irresponsible owner a few blocks away.

My mind was racing back and forth picturing various options and scenarios while I eagerly drove over to get a piece of the action. Ah, there it was - such a cute, adorable little female puppy! My friend's family have carried her into the house, and she was painstakingly trying to crawl to a nearby metal container for shade. Something was definitely wrong - she was dragging herself with just the front legs.

Wasting no further time, we quickly chauffeurred her to the vet. It was discovered that her right hind leg was dislocated by the accident's impact, and she was put on a plaster cast for 2 weeks. We approached the owner, who appeared reluctant to bear responsibility and baulked at the RM280 medical bill. Fearing that we would claim it from him, he told us to keep the puppy. We named her Chanelle - a word that we believe aptly described her elegance and charm.

Unfortunately, we were unable to foster Chanelle for long as my friend's brother was asthmatic. We decided to seek a suitable adopter for her, and executed a string of online announcements in pet forums, social networks and emails. Veterans at the forums were extremely helpful and provided kind support and advice on locating suitable adopters. There were a number of enquiries, but nothing materialized.
The lucky break came when I discussed this with my old time buddy and friend-cum-animal lover, Ezer Ratchaga. Having rescued a number of puppies in the past, he advised me to place an ad in The Star newspapers' classifieds. "It's the best way to get your pet adopted," said Ezer. "I used to take abandoned puppies from the jungle behind my house and list them in the classifieds and lots of people would call. It's a no-brainer really. A lot of people are looking to buy a puppy and if you put up an ad that says, FREE PUPPIES, people would jump." And sure enough, the response was overwhelming with just a simple 4-liner ad placed in a Saturday Star's Metro section. Filtering through the 30+ calls received, I shortlisted a few candidates which we invited over to meet Chanelle.

One of the adopters, Mrs.Tan, turned out to be the perfect match for Chanelle. A family of dog lovers with 2 kids that truly adore Chanelle, they are able to shower her with all the love and care she deserves. And so, Chanelle became the newest member of their happy family, with a mini pinscher companion to chase around the house. And till this day, she is leading a comfortable and luxurious life, fully recovered from her injury and naughty as ever.

(That was just the beginning!)

Ok, let's cut to the chase - during the process, I was exposed to an active community of dog rescuers and adopters in the online forums. What I realized was that many kind-hearted people were doing a great job rescuing and fostering homeless dogs, but the problem lies in effectively seeking suitable adopters - be it the difficulty in cost, time or reach of audience.

Why not team up all these people into an organized group?

We came up with a comprehensive website which will incorporate a lot of tools for the pet-loving community of Malaysia to further the plight of thousands of animals. The service will start off with a discussion forum, classifieds and adoption profiles of pets seeking a loving home, and a Hall of Shame to expose the people who are cruel to animals.

Thus, PetFinder.my was conceived.

This service would address 3 important missions:

To Facilitate Better Communications
Right now there is a lack of organized presentation of information to potential adopters and communications / requests are often ad-hoc. By having a system with properly profiled pets, rescuers and adopters, a lot of back-and-forth communication can be eliminated, resulting in much more effective rescue efforts, location of temporary foster homes, and pairing of the dogs and adopters.

Economy Of Scale
Instead of having each of the rescuers putting up individual ads in websites, newspapers etc, we can now promote a single, unified resource - the website. Ads can be directed towards this website and enquirers can be presented with much more choices by selecting from our pool of pets available for adoption. In fact, the chances would be higher for adopters to find a suitable pet this way.

Educating The Public
To generate a vibrant non-profit community within our service, providing assistance to the public and educating people on how to manage pets responsibly. This service will also serve as a forum for the public to expose irresponsible owners that ill-treat their pets. Although we do not have the authority to punish these owners, we can use the power of media to put a shame on them. We can also assist SPCA and PAWS in reaching out to more adopters and donors.

I envision a cohesive network of rescuers, fosterers and adopters effectively cooperating to provide loving care and shelter for these neglected animals. I strongly believe that we should do our level best to assist the less fortunate in this world - be it humans, animals or wildlife. Together with a team of dedicated volunteers, we set out to develop PetFinder, hoping that our little contribution here can help put a comfortable home over the heads of more animals.

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