When you hear the word “technology,” do you think it has nothing to do with your efforts to save animals? Does the word itself leave you cold? Next month, Maddie’s Fund® CIO Lars Rabbe will be launching a series of posts on how technology is the missing link in finding homes and habitats for the 3 million dogs and cats who go unadopted each year. Before he does, though, we wanted to ask you a few questions.
Can you imagine trying to adopt a pet without being able to search online? How about trying to understand where the animals entering a shelter are coming from without the ability to analyze intake records? What would it be like to try to recruit foster homes or volunteers, or run a fundraising or adoption event, without social media?
We may take most of those things for granted today, but they represent massive technological advances in the sheltering field that have already saved tens of millions of lives.
If just the sound of the word “technology” confuses you or leaves you cold, it’s important to understand it isn’t some complicated system located somewhere the average animal lover or shelter/rescue group staffer can’t get to. It’s inside our phones and computers, on social media, and on websites where people find pets to adopt. It’s all around us, and we use it every day.
Have you ever watched a YouTube video on how to create enrichment for pets in shelters? That’s technology.
Taken a webinar? Posted a request for foster care for a litter of kittens on your organization’s Facebook page? That’s technology, too.
Technology not only helps us with the day-to-day activities of saving animals’ lives, it is the main tool enabling us to reach outside our organizations and industry to reach potential adopters, volunteers, donors and foster homes.
There are technological tools that might seem daunting — volunteer and donor management software, digital advertising platforms like Google Adwords or Facebook ads, data analysis programs, shelter management tools like Shelterluv. But the first time someone suggested creating a national database of pets looking for homes, I guarantee plenty of people were daunted. Now, we don’t think twice before listing a pet on sites like AdoptAPet.com or sharing a Petfinder link to Facebook.
Crossing the bridge between what you are familiar with today — smartphones, social media, search engines — and the technological innovations that are coming to market every day, or will be in the pipeline tomorrow shouldn’t seem irrelevant to your work helping animals. And it definitely isn’t anything to fear!
So when Rabbe’s series starts to run, or the next time you’re at an animal sheltering conference and you see a session on technology, don’t think it has nothing to do with you. Don’t be afraid of it. Walk right in, and embrace the future of animal lifesaving.