The 'humanization' of pets: How technology is assisting you in better understanding your dog
AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — Pets and technology have grown increasingly crucial as the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed.
More than 11 million Americans obtained pets during the epidemic, according to one South By Southwest panel, and with owners taking better care of their pets today than ever, our furry friends are becoming family members.
It was dubbed "the humanization of pets" by the panel. Dr. Ellen Jefferson, President and CEO of Austin Pets Alive!, was one of the main speakers. Since its inception in 2008, the no-kill shelter has saved over 100,000 pets.
Jefferson agreed that current legislation does not reflect how people respect and care for their dogs.
There is a huge disconnect between how much people care about their pets and how our laws treat them like property with no inherent value, Jefferson said. 98 percent of people believe their pets are as important as human family members, but our laws still treat them like property with no inherent value.
Fi, a business that creates smart dog collars, is one company that is making it simpler to address the requirements of your pets, especially dogs. The collars track not just your dog's whereabouts, but also his health, sleep, and activity, according to Founder and CEO Jonathan Bensamoun, who appeared on the panel Monday.
There is even a social media network for the company.
People can link their dog to other dogs, view their images, interact with them, communicate to them, and we're adding more location-enabled capabilities that will allow people to share their location or the region they're traveling with their dogs, he said.
People who want to improve the quality of their bond with their dogs, according to Bensamoun, have shown a steady demand for their goods. When it comes to letting their dogs roam on their own, the tracking feature gives owners piece of mind.
I think what we're trying to do is build the most comprehensive understanding of the dog as possible, and right now, we're detecting movement and inferring a lot of behavior and data from the dog's movement, but there are a lot of other types of information we can start collecting about the dog and aggregating at the network level," says the researcher.
Bensamoun believes that accumulating data for hundreds of thousands of dogs will eventually help him spot trends in the dog population.
Not only do pet owners value technology like Fi's, but Jefferson also wants to see changes in the shelter industry.
None of that is part of the databases that shelters use, and it's part of the technology that hospitals use, Jefferson explained. We really need to grasp that as we move forward, just taking a smarter look at how we handle animals in the shelter.
In the animal shelter area, technology is critically missing, she said. "What we're trying to promote here at SXSW is an awareness of that, and that there is so much that can be done to improve the lives of animals in shelters."
That includes everything from getting proper shelter care to vaccines and vet appointments to spending time on the adoption floor, and so on.
Without an adoptable pooch, the panel would be incomplete. Ray Ray was hauled in by APA! after his family either departed or were evicted from his housing. Three years ago, he arrived to APA! from the Austin Animal Center.
Ray Ray has been adopted and returned previously, so Jefferson noted that they're looking for the ideal home for him, whether it's a foster or forever home.
At SXSW, it was the first time APA! was represented on a panel.
We're just pleased to be here, Jefferson said, because it's an opportunity to reach a larger audience that would be more helpful in eliminating the killing of dogs in shelters and, in the first place, ending the senseless separation of humans and pets.
More information on Austin Pets Alive! can be found online.
On Monday afternoon, Ollie CEO Nick Stafford joined the discussion. His company produces customized meal regimens for your dog depending on his age, weight, breed, activity level, and any allergies he may have. After that, the meals are delivered to your home.