Winning Idea: El Paso Animal Services’ GIS Map Helps Get Lost Pets Home

The Association’s Pres & CEO, Jim Tedford, recently sat down with Pethealth Inc.’s Steve Zeidman and the winners of the 2020 Diane & Bob Hoover Annual Innovation Award. Read on for a quick look at Paso Animal Services’ GIS Pet Finder map, and listen to the podcast for the complete lowdown.

Who: Adan Parra, Michele Anderson & the IT team at El Paso Animal Services, El Paso, TX

What: The self-described “tech geeks” used technology to create a Pet Finder map that won them Pethealth Inc.’s 2020 Diane & Bob Hoover Annual Innovation Award.

Challenge: As an agency with an annual intake of 27K, El Paso Animal Services wanted to make sure they had a centralized location for the community to be able to find lost pets and get them home to their owners. “People were having to scroll, scroll, scroll on our website to look through the listings,” explains Anderson.

How they solved it: Parra and Anderson partnered with their IT team to create a map of lost and found pets in the community using GIS software. “The software was being used for environmental services, but we tweaked it for our usage,” they report. 

“Now, if someone loses their pet or finds one, they can go to the map and zoom into that location of the neighborhood and see the lost and found pets in that area. This narrows down their search so they’re not looking through hundreds of pets.” The map features 4 tabs—Lost Cats, Lost Dogs, Found Cats, Found Dogs—and users can search by location, which brings up photos of the animals, or search by the photos, which track back to the map.

How It’s Working: “We’re always hearing awesome success stories of people being reunited with their pets within hours or a day, thanks to this technology,” say Parra and Anderson. The agency regularly shares stats with their supporters via social media.

What’s next: “We’re not done with the map!” say the innovative duo. “We’re continuing to work on it and make it better.”

BONUS! Tips for using technology to help animals: “The first thing I always ask shelters,” says Pethealth Inc’s Steve Zeidman, “is, ‘Are you using your current products well?’ Before you look to spend money, make sure you’re taking full advantage of the technology you have.” And don’t assume the solution is in animal welfare-specific technology. “There’s a ton of general software, used for restaurants or retail, for example, that may solve your problem for you.”

You can also listen to the podcast of this episode here.

Learn More

El Paso Animal Services’ Pet Finder Map
Podcast: Why didn’t I think of that? Animal Welfare Innovation Award for 2020
Blog: Metro Nashville AC&C Uses Technology To Rock Their RTO

Top photo: Shares El Paso Animal Services, “This cutie was found by a neighbor who fostered her for a couple of days, and reunited with her family shortly after!”

The Association is the only international society of leaders actively leading and managing community animal shelters/animal control agencies.

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