Ahead of this year’s National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, which is on April 30, Twilio has launched an SMS bot that is designed to make it easier for you to find the adorable cat or dog you wish to adopt. With ShelterPal, you text “Shelter Me” to (980) 477-3728 and answer a few questions. From then, Twilio will provide you with what it claims is the ideal cat or dog for you that is available at a nearby shelter.
Having a pet at home can be a very big decision, and it’s often said that you get one from a shelter and not from puppy mills. But how do you know which breed or animal will be right for you? Using ShelterPal, you provide the bot with your interests; what you’re looking for in a pet, such as size, age, personality, energy level; whether you’re living in a small apartment, have a big backyard, or a ranch; and your zip code.
After taking this input, ShelterPal will analyze the answers and send a message back with the name and photo of the cat or dog it believes will be best for you. It also provides the address and contact details of the nearby shelter where you can pick up the latest addition to your family.
To support animal adoption, Twilio said it’ll donate $1 to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) for every text in ShelterPal, up to a $10,000 maximum.
Whether ShelterPal was created through Twilio itself or through its nonprofit foundation is unknown, but the company has made it a point to produce tools that helps organizations combating certain issues, such as child trafficking. The cloud-based telephony company is also a member of the 1% pledge, which requires signatories to donate 1 percent of their time, technology, and investment to doing good.
While bots can be supported on Facebook Messenger, Kik, Slack, and other messaging platforms, launching ShelterPal in SMS provides greater reach because there are fewer hurdles to use it — while there are 1.2 billion monthly active users on Messenger, opening a text message is often easier and more universal than opening up another app.
One interesting thing about this bot is that shelters or adoption agencies won’t necessarily know that you’re looking for a dog. But if you’re torn between getting a French bulldog or a corgi, there are certainly many things you should consider, not just which one is cuter. Twilio’s ShelterPal could provide the answers you sorely need.
Special thanks to those who allowed me to use their dogs in this article. All of them were adopted from a shelter. From top-left to right: Ella (Nicole Colwell), Brody the pug (Graham Jenkins), Lacey (Sarah), BeeGlee (Mary Feeney), Gambit (Stephanie Chan), Nigel and Penelope (Chris Prottas), Teddy (Julie Isen), and Andy.