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There are millions of pets out there who need a home and people to love.

AllPaws entered private beta today, opening its online pet search service to 10,000 pre subscribers who want to adopt. The startup will launch to the general public in the next couple of weeks, and VentureBeat caught up with founder Darrell Lerner to get an advance look.

Lerner said AllPaws is like a dating service for pet adoption. He previously cofounded AYI, an early Facebook dating app that now has 70 million installs and is publicly traded. He left earlier this year to build AllPaws.

“I wanted to combine my love of animals with my expertise with online dating, to create what I think is a much more advanced and forward thinking product that helps people find pets to adopt,” he told me. “The current model for pet rescue and adoption is broken and inefficient, and there are things we can do with tech to make it better. It is a very backward industry.”

6 to 8 million animals enter shelters every year, and 3 to 4 million are euthanized. There are a number of reasons for this — too many animals don’t get spayed or neutered, animals get lost without identification, or people don’t realize the financial and time commitment involved in caring for a pet.

Thousands of animal rescue organizations and shelters are charged with housing these animals and trying to find them a home. The Humane Society said that adoption rates for shelter animals are low, and if animals can’t get adopted out, some shelters euthanize them to make space.

Petfinder was founded 15 years ago with the same goal as AllPaws — to make it easier to find and adopt pets. Petfinder was owned by media conglomerate Discovery Communications before it sold to Nestle Purina in July 2013.

Lerner said that while Petfinder has done some “wonderful work,” he saw an opportunity to take a more “fresh and modern approach.”

AllPaws has 30 filters for pet search, including zip code, age, color, breed, size, and coat length, and every dog has a profile with a large image and a unique description. There is also a “Help Me Decide” option, which acts like a concierge to find a good match.

“If you want to go find a blue shirt in a certain size with a certain collar, you can perform that search,” Lerner said. “You can perform a detailed search for basically anything on the Internet, but the ability to search for a pet that is a basic part of your family is really limited. The better the search tools and user experience, the more likely people are to adopt a pet and bridge that gap that causes so many to be euthanized.”

Lerner said AllPaws also stands out with features like the ability to “favorite” a pet, direct messaging with shelters, and social integration so people can share photos. People love to share pet photos, and AllPaws wants to channel that passion to help get more pets adopted.

The site has 114,000 available pets at launch, through 6,000 shelters and rescues across the country. You can search for dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, birds, “small and furry,” reptiles, and even barnyard animals. Soon AllPaws will let individuals post pets for adoption.

Down the road, the company aims to become the “go-to place for everything pet related” by creating a community, publishing editorial content, and featuring products or services that could help pet owners.

AllPaws is based in New York City.


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