Like many dog lovers and potential new dog owners, when it came time to adopt a new pet, my first stop was not the pound, but the Internet. I read about the various dog breeds and their respective temperaments, and I visited the websites of local shelters to see what kind of dogs were currently available. Now, a new mobile application called BarkBuddy has launched to make the dog adoption process easier. In fact, the app works a lot like a Tinder for dogs, as you swipe left or right to indicate your interest in a particular furry friend.
BarkBuddy comes from Bark & Co., the company behind the monthly doggie goodie boxes at BarkBox as well as the vets-on-demand operation called BarkCare. The app today works across the U.S. and Canada, and sources its dog photos from PetFinder, a service that aggregates data about adoptable pets from shelters and other rescue organizations, as well as from Bark & Co.’s own network of around 2,500 shelters who are involved with BarkBox’s referral program. In total, BarkBuddy currently lists around 300,000 dogs.
If you’ve ever used the dating app Tinder, you’ll immediately understand how BarkBuddy works. And even if you haven’t, the interface is easy enough to grasp. As on Tinder, you swipe the photos on the screen either left or right as a way of saying “yes” or “no,” or you can tap the “X” or “heart” button at the bottom for the same effect. But in this case, you’re not looking for potential dates or hookups, but rather choosing your favorite dogs from those located in nearby shelters.
What’s also nice about the app is that it lets you indicate, more specifically, what kind of dog you’re looking for before you get started. You can filter for either male or female dogs, and use sliders to filter by age, activity level, and size. BarkBuddy then uses geolocation to find which dogs are available in your area’s shelters.
You can also tap on the photos to read the dog’s name and the description, as well as share the post to Facebook, or reach out to the shelter directly to arrange a visit. Dogs you like are saved to your Favorites in the app as well, and BarkBuddy then uses that information to start building out a profile of the type of dog you like.
That’s an especially useful feature because online shelter data isn’t always 100 percent up-to-date. While PetFinder is fairly accurate, the info on available dogs does have to be maintained by the shelters themselves. And this can sometimes be a challenge for these organizations, since many are reliant on volunteer photographers to take the pet photos, for example, or may not have the resources to regularly update their websites. But by even playing around with BarkBuddy, you at least are able to learn about what sorts of dog breeds you’re gravitating toward, which can help you when you make your in-person visits to pounds, shelters or local rescues.
BarkBuddy is somewhat reminiscent of another mobile pet-finding app called PetMatch, which works with both dogs and cats. However, PetMatch is about analyzing a photo you have on hand (like that of a favorite pet who has passed away) then finding similar-looking pets in your area. The app also competes with other online resources like PetFinder itself or Petango, for example, as well as other pet-finding apps like Fido.
The company says its overall goal here is to build products and provide technology that reaches new audiences and allows the good shelters to succeed. The Bark & Co. team has been playing around with the app internally since quietly launching it earlier this month, and is now ready to roll it out to a wider audience.
BarkBuddy is a free download here on iTunes.