Since the creation of Petfinder, other sites have begun offering similar services. Petfinder does not require that its members restrict their listings to its site, and Petfinder Vice President Kim Saunders says that rescuers have a responsibility to use whatever resources they think will help animals find homes. Many Petfinder users point out that any listing service is most effective when everything is listed and located in one place, so multiple registries may dilute the effectiveness of any individual site.
One of Petfinder's greatest strengths is its willingness to listen to its constituents and respond with new services and adjustments to existing services. Petfinder regularly surveys its members looking for areas to improve and new needs to address.
Kim Saunders points out that the shelter world in many ways is like a constant disaster: It's incredibly high stress, particularly when the people who are involved care the most and are therefore affected the most. Shelter staff and rescue volunteers are prone to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and have high rates of burnout.
Over the course of its development, Petfinder has developed a library of articles and resources for animal professionals, and it has message boards where people can discuss rescue and animal issues. Petfinder even brings seminars on animal behavior and shelter care to its members across the country, since many are unable to travel very far.
The impact of Petfinder goes far beyond the number of animals saved. The site publicizes the enormity of the pet overpopulation problem and the plight of shelter animals. One visit to Petfinder will explode any myths that all shelter animals are old, sick or unadoptable. The sheer number of animals listed drives home the importance of spaying, neutering and responsible pet care.
For lots more information on Petfinder and related topics, check out the links below.
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- Fromm, Emily. Marketing Manager, Petfinder.com. Personal correspondence, 5/22/2008.
- Saunders, Kim. Vice President, Shelter Outreach & Public Relations. Petfinder.com. Personal interview.