2016 Pet Guide - Match.dog

Using a dating service philosophy, PawsLikeMe aims to hook up pet seekers with forever companions.

Carlos Basabe

Pet Guide - Contest Winners
Pet Guide - Match.dog
Pet Guide - Visible Progress
Pet Guide - Animal Reader
Pet Guide - Just the Facts
2016 Pet Resource Guide

If you’re yearning to adopt a pet but dread the thought of all those mournful eyes beseeching you as you walk the shelter aisles, two Central Florida sisters say there’s a better way to find your perfect match.

“Think of eHarmony,” says Marianna Benko, co-founder of PawsLikeMe, an Orlando tech startup that uses a personality quiz algorithm to bring dogs and potential “parents” together. Benko and her sister, Elizabeth Holmes, of Cocoa, teamed up with Dr. Coleen Johnston, a Palm Bay veterinarian, to develop the quiz, which focuses on three aspects of compatibility.

“We’re looking at the personality of both the parent and the pet, the environment of the parent and the pet, and the lifestyle of the parent,” says Holmes, the company’s CEO. 

Potential adopters complete an extensive quiz on pawslikeme.com (sample questions: “Which describes you best: Rule-oriented or tolerant?” “Agree or disagree: I prefer a quiet evening at home to a social outing with friends”). They’re shown pets that have been profiled by participating shelters or rescue groups, or by pet owners hoping to rehome their animals.

If adopters indicate interest in a shelter pet, the website links them to the shelter, which then follows its own adoption protocols. If adopters want information on a pet to be rehomed, the site notifies the current parent and facilitates contact between the two parties.

Right now, PawsLikeMe is working with more than 200 shelters and nonprofits nationwide, Holmes says, including Orange County’s.

“We love it from the perspective of more eyes on our animals online,” says Diane Summers, program manager of the Communications Team for Orange County Animal Services. “I think a lot of people are accustomed to shopping online for everything, but we still require interaction between the person and the pet before we begin the adoption application process.”

The PawsLikeMe site addresses the importance of meeting potential matches. “We have guidance on the site that provides [adopters] with additional education through supporting them every step of the way,” says Benko, a clinical social worker. “ ‘Think about this, think about that as you go through the process.”

The sisters, originally from Montreal, have been lifelong animal advocates, adopting, rescuing and fostering dogs and cats in Canada and the U.S. Holmes ran a rescue for eight years, and her experience fostering more than 200 dogs convinced her that technology was the way to reduce shelter populations by making better matches and by helping pet owners find new homes rather than surrendering their animals.

“Rehoming is a small but growing platform,” says Holmes. “We’re seeing about 10 postings a day from owners across the country. It’s not a big pool like shelters,” but the need is there.

Holmes, Benko and Johnston have had to rehome pets, Holmes says, so they understand what it’s like.

“Sometimes you’re in a situation where your life changes and you can’t keep that pet,” Holmes says, “and there’s a lot of judgment that’s placed on people who need to get rid of a pet. That’s something we wanted to avoid with our platform. We wanted them to feel comfortable that they can come to us and we’ll help.”

Dogs have been the focus of the company since the site was launched in 2015, but cats will be joining canines in September, Holmes says.

Hopes are high that shelters and nonprofits that use the site will see progress.

“The more successful they are,” Orange County’s Summers says, “the more successful we’ll be as well.”

Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

Orlando's Top Dentists of 2019

Our annual list featuring 220 of the area's finest dental professionals.

Guide to Private Schools 2019

Our searchable annual database will help you chart an educational course for your family.

Top Doctors 2018

The Annual List of the Top Doctors in Orlando.

Best Doctors 2018

The Annual List of the Best Doctors in Orlando.

Orlando's Top Chiropractors of 2018

Check out our 2018 list of some of the best chiropractors in the Orlando area.

2018 Premier Veterinarians

The 2018 Pet Guide: Pet Resource Guide

Here are some of the places you can go in Central Florida when you need supplies, products and services for your best friends.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Hermès Takes Flight in Orlando

Say bonjour to the newest luxury boutique at The Mall at Millenia.

Cirque Under the Big Top

They’re back! If you’re been pining for “La Nouba,’’ check out the dazzling “Luzia,” through April 21 at The Florida Mall.

Health Hub: Colon Cancer

If you're 45, it's time to get screened.

Kid Kontributor of the Month - January 2019

Joyce B. shares what's she's looking forward to this year in our monthly feature, the "Kid Kontributor of the Month."

Wheels & Wine Giveaway

We're kicking off the year with a giveaway everyone can stand behind!
Edit Module