Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide each year -- and over 4.8 million of these animals are never adopted. Elderly animals, pit bulls, and black cats are among the most likely to be neglected by adopters. Unfortunately, these animals spend their lives in isolation and cramped cages, never knowing companionship and love. Even more heartbreaking, shelters are often forced to euthanize animals that have gone unadopted for long periods of time in order to make room for new animals. 1.5 million animals are put down each year.
Cats and dogs have spent generations evolving alongside humans. An animal companion can improve one’s physical and mental health - owning a pet has been linked to lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and improved overall cardiovascular health. Moreover, they can help people manage stress and battle depression. We are building an app to connect people with shelter animals. They need us as much as we need them.
What it does:
We created an app to encourage animal lovers to adopt shelter animals called “pupper” - a new form of a dating app, because “Who needs relationships when you can have a dog!” Through completing a short quiz that includes both fun and practical questions, users will be given a percentage match with a pet at a local shelter. For example, depending on your answers you may have a 98% match with Romeo, the 7-year-old bulldog who loves fondue nights, is good with kids, and is always up for morning yoga. Or maybe an 86% match with Belle, the 2-year-old calico cat who spends her day doing martial arts, sunbathing, and binging Stranger Things. Regardless of how silly the match may be, users will feel an instant connection with the pet, and as a result, will be more likely to adopt the animal. On the final page, in addition to a percentage match, photo, description of the pet, there will be information on how to contact the shelter and proceed with the adoption. We hope that this app will increase the number of shelter animals that are adopted, especially among animal groups that are traditionally less likely to be adopted.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SCm6Ua142QzUR1WcD5Uvf-FkMrM_faI8ZSFFYrxqFL8/edit?usp=sharing This document includes our list of questions and sample pet matches.
How we built it
We built our app on XCode, an ios platform. For each page of the quiz, we used a label to propose a question and created four buttons that had four different answer options. We also included an image related to the topic of the question. Using an ipad and stylus we designed a logo by hand that we included in the header of our app and our app icon. Our header also includes a progress bar showing how much of the questionnaire has been completed. We tested our app using an iPhone 8 simulator.
Challenges we ran into
We encountered many challenges over the course of the day. Having barely any prior experience with XCode, we heavily utilized youtube videos, website tutorials, and aid from Femmehacks organizers. Initially, it was difficult to collaborate using XCode - we overcame this challenge by distributing tasks (such as coding, graphic design, or data collection) and used GitHub to share code. One large challenge we faced was opening our code in an iphone simulator - we spent over an hour with a Femmehacks organizer overcoming this issue. Eventually, we were able to solve this issue by uploading our code to GitHub and opening it on another laptop. Additionally, we faced difficulty navigating the newest version of XCode, as it had some different features than the older versions used in the Youtube videos we were following.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud of how much we have learned over the course of the day. We started our day off with brainstorming, and we were able to come up with over a dozen ideas that could improve our day-to-day lives. After settling on the idea for “pupper,” we faced the daunting task of building the app. Despite having very little prior knowledge of how to code an app, we were able to make a lot of progress in just a day and developed the interface for our app. In addition to our coding progress, we are proud of how much we’ve grown as a team - we collaborated to come up with ideas and efficiently divided up tasks.
What we learned
Throughout the process of developing “pupper”, we learned how to use XCode for ios, follow online tutorials, and ask mentors for help. At first, we were hesitant to approach the mentors for help, but throughout the day, we gained the confidence to ask for help when we encountered technical problems. We also learned how to share code on Github; since XCode didn't allow us to collaborate on the same workspace at once, we had to learn how to work together by allocating different parts of the project amongst all of us. Overall, Femmehacks was a great experience, and we learned both technical and collaborative skills through the process.
What's next for pupper
We have many future steps for pupper. First, we need to code more of our buttons and design a title page. We also plan to pursue more efficient routes of storing pet profiles (potentially creating a server that we could easily update to include more animals.) Eventually, we hope to collaborate with shelters to receive the most up-to-date information on animals that are up for adoption. Ultimately, we hope to reduce the number of animals being euthanized each year and help each pet find a forever home.