Many firms have long refused coverage or charge more for pit bulls and other dogs considered more dangerous, but New York and other states say policies shouldn’t be breed specific.
People are far more likely to give the virus to cats than cats are to pass it to humans, experts stress.
Pets (and their owners) prepare for the inevitable.
Retrievers that don’t retrieve and Papillons that point are all possible because the genes that shape dog behavior predate modern breeding that focuses on appearance, researchers find.
As the authorities in China’s biggest city fight to stamp out an Omicron outbreak, neighbors are turning to one another for support.
Monterey Financial Services LLC has agreed to pay $930,000 in debt relief and restitution to settle allegations that it was conducting the practice, which is banned in the Bay State and others.
The company’s first consumer protection lawsuit, filed Monday, claims a Cameroon man tricked would-be buyers using Gmail and other services.
My friends and family don’t get it. All I can do is try to describe what it’s like to be with them, the moments I’m not sure I can do without.
As travel returns, so are requests for dog sitting — after all, those pandemic puppies aren’t taking care of themselves.
When marriages between humans slowed because of the pandemic, ceremonies uniting two animals only became more popular.
Dogs and cats have surprised their owners by gaining weight during the coronavirus pandemic. Veterinarians blame the extra treats and table scraps.
“It is the most human of things to want to memorialize and honor someone we have loved and lost, no matter of skin or fur,” a reader writers.
City dwellers are expected to tolerate some amount of noise. When it comes to disruptive pets, you need to prove it’s a problem.
Paleo, vegan, gluten-free: Owners are putting animals on human regimens and fueling a huge pet-wellness industry. But some health experts are concerned.
As a first-time dog owner, I didn’t anticipate how thoroughly a dog would demand that I experience my neighborhood from a different perspective.
White-tailed deer could become a reservoir for the virus, putting people and animals at risk, health experts say.
Some pet owners have extended vaccine worries to their furry pals. When is it appropriate to skip a dog or cat’s shot, and when is it absolutely crucial?
On Fido and fruitfulness.
Most apartment owners are subject to the house rules, which a board can change. But some rules are not always enforceable.
Expressing concern about global birthrates, Francis said such couples were acting in a selfish way that diminished humanity.
The magazine’s Ethicist columnist on what terms we can attach to our plans to help loved ones — and more.
A scientist in Scotland tested a so-called DogPhone to let her dog make video calls. He did use it, but mostly by mistake.
There are some mysteries that even genetic science can’t explain.
Scientists have developed vaccines for cats and dogs, but vaccinating companion animals is not necessary, experts said.
Although the scientific literature makes a compelling case that our pets are good for us in many ways, research into the effects of co-sleeping is more limited.
A recent C.D.C. rabies rule, pricey pet ‘tickets’ and limits on animals in airline cabins are making traveling with a pet more complicated.
The agency warned Midwestern Pet Foods Inc. that its dry dog food may also have sickened 220 pets.
Now that you have that COVID dog, Embark Veterinary wants to help him or her be in your life for a long time by offering DNA testing with the goal of curbing preventable diseases and increasing the lifespan of dogs by three years within the next decade.
The Boston-based dog genetics company raised $75 million in Series B funding in what the company is calling “the biggest Series B for a pet startup to date.” SoftBank Vision Fund 2 was the lead investor and was joined by existing investors F-Prime Capital, SV Angel, Slow Ventures, Freestyle Capital and Third Kind Venture Capital.
The new round boosts Embark’s total funding to $94.3 million since the company was founded in 2015, according to Crunchbase data. It also gives it a post-money valuation of $700 million, Embark founder and CEO Ryan Boyko told TechCrunch.
Boyko has been a dog lover all his life, and also interested in biology and evolution. Dogs, in particular, are fascinating to him because of their variety: they can be bred to be two pounds or 200 pounds, and come in all shapes and sizes. His interest led him to study dogs in order to understand their evolution.
“I began to think about health problems, and honestly, dogs are a better system for using genetics to better their health than humans,” Boyko said. “You can breed them, so genetics has as much power to cause health problems as it can improve quality and life.”
Embark’s dog DNA test retails for $199 and enables dog owners, breeders and veterinarians to personalize care plans based on a dog’s unique genetic profile. It can test for over 350 breeds and 200 genetic health risks, as well as physical traits. Similar to a 23andMe test, test users can learn characteristics about breed, health and ancestry.
For example, the test could show that a healthy dog may have a gene that predisposes them to slipped discs. If the dog has that, then weight management would be an important factor in their care regime, as would not allowing them to jump off the couch. Another common genetic risk is HUU, or Hyperuricosuria, which is elevated levels of uric acid in urine that could lead to bladder stones due to the way dogs process minerals. By changing the dog’s diet, it could reduce the risk for developing the stones, which are painful and expensive to treat, Boyko said.
The test’s technology revolves around proprietary genotyping technology that analyzes more than 200,000 genetic markers, currently two times more information than any other dog DNA test on the market, Boyko said. This gives Embark the world’s largest database of canine health and biological information, enabling the company to provide insights into certain conditions and make new discoveries about health risks, traits and breeds.
Embark aims to become the standard of care for dog owners and vets. It grew 235% between 2019 and 2020 and saw five times the sales over the past two years. To support that growth, the company intends to use the new funding to bring on key hires and expand its database. Boyko anticipates adding more than 100 employees between 2021 and 2022.
Boyko said the opportunity in the pet startup space is huge. Indeed, U.S. spending on pets reached nearly $100 billion in 2020, up from $95.7 billion in 2019, according to the American Pet Products Association.
At the same time, venture capital interest in U.S. pet-focused companies, from nutrition to travel to healthcare, grew 29.5% from 2019 and 2020, according to Crunchbase data. In addition to Embark’s funding, 2021 was good to other pet startups as well, including pet insurance company Wagmo, raising $12.5 million, connected pet collar company Fi received $30 million and Rover, which announced plans to go public via SPAC.
Lydia Jett, partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, told TechCrunch that this was her first pet-based investment, and what Embark is doing brings advances to a category right now where people care about their pets enough that they want to do something that will expand their value of life.
Jett said the management team being dedicated to DNA-based analytics is the future, and Embark is starting this big curve when it comes to pets and the convergence of real emotional ties to pets and the ability to improve their lives.
“This company is a driver of change to happen,” she added. “We are the largest consumer investor in the world, and Embark is very much aligned with what we are seeing across our portfolio that consumers are revisiting priorities and choices. That is a major trend, but still early in the cycle of personalization for their pets.”
Conventional wisdom holds that one ought let sleeping does lie. But no one says you’re barred from tracking them while they do. New York-based smart collar maker Fi announced today that it’s adding sleep to the list of the device’s tracking.
The added feature uses the collar’s on-board motion sensing to monitor your best friend’s sleep during the day and night (and almost certainly leave you jealous about how much shut-eye they’re getting).
The information is presented on a timeline that should look familiar to anyone who has used the human equivalent. It also offers a live check-in to see what the dog is up to during the day while you’re at work (assuming you ever go back to the office).
The goal here is to offer up some sharable metrics about your pet that might point to underlying health problems, be it too much sleep, not enough or frequent trips to the water bowl in the middle of the night. Sudden changes also present potential red flags for the dog’s health.
“We are excited to move into holistic health tracking that empowers dog parents to take the best possible care of their pets,” founder and CEO Jonathan Bensamoun said in a release. “If your dog is tired, it can’t tell you, so Fi will. Fi can answer critical questions like, ‘Is my pet sleeping the right way?’ or ‘Did its activity levels decrease lately?’ long before more serious issues have time to develop.”
Fi raised $30 million back in February and is working to grow its reach in the U.S., including a recent distribution deal with mega-online pet supply seller, Chewy.
Cats and dogs can be infected by the coronavirus — but cats are more susceptible to infection, a new study suggests.
In any household, the true master of hope is the family dog.
Champ, who was the family’s cherished companion, “died peacefully at home,” President Biden and the first lady said.
Jittery pet owners are asking vets, animal poison control centers and Twitter. Read on for answers.
Despite alarmist headlines, the happy truth is most people are keeping their newly adopted pets, animal welfare groups say.
Researchers want to learn more about the connections between humans and the feeding of birds, beasts and other fauna.
The process of acceptance and letting go builds the resilience necessary to navigate an array of life’s obstacles.
Many truckers depend on the companionship of dogs, cats, birds, pigs — or even a hedgehog.
Popular family tracking app Life360 is investing in hardware. The company this morning announced the $37 million acquisition of Chicago-based Jiobit, the maker of a wearable location device designed for use by families with younger children, pets, or seniors. The $37 million is primarily in stock and debt, Life360 notes, but if certain performance metrics are met within two calendar years following the deal’s close, the deal price could increase to $54.5 million.
The Jiobit was first introduced on the market in 2018, mainly as a kid and pet tracker. The small, lightweight device can be attached to items kids wear or carry, like belt loops, shoelaces, and school backpacks, and appealed in particular to families who wanted a way to track younger children who didn’t yet have their own mobile device. Earlier this year, the company launched an updated version of the Jiobit ($129.99) that included a combination of radios (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular and GPS), as well as sensors, including an accelerometer/pedometer, temperature sensor and barometer.
The new antenna system was specifically designed to increase performance inside schools, stores, high rises and other challenging signal environments. It also leveraged the reach of low-power, wide-area (LPWA) wireless networks in order to better serve rural regions where cellular coverage is limited and spotty. And the new device was waterproof (IPX8) up to 30 minutes in up to 5 feet of water and had a longer battery life.
Life360 envisions adding the Jiobit to its existing family safety membership, allowing family members and pets with the device attached to show in the Life360 mobile app’s map interface, alongside other family members. Life360’s paid users (Premium members) would get a discounted Jiobit along with their subscription.
“We’ve long wanted to expand beyond the smartphone into wearable devices, and Jiobit offers the market leading device for pets, younger children, and seniors,” said Chris Hulls, CEO and co-founder of Life360, in a statement about the deal. “With Jiobit, Life360 would be the market leader in both hardware and software products for families once the deal closes. We will continue to seek out additional opportunities that could further cement our position as the leading digital safety brand for families,” he added.
San Francisco-based Life360 made a name for itself over the years as an app that parents love, but teens hate. In more recent months, however, the company has been responsive to teens’ criticism of being helicopter-parented with no freedom of privacy, by announcing new features like “bubbles” that instead allow the teen to share a generalized location instead of their specific whereabouts. Hulls has also regularly engaged with teens via TikTok, in a clever marketing move.
As of the end of 2020, Life360 claimed more than 26 million monthly active users across 195 countries.
The acquisition is still pending the approval of the boards of the two companies.
If you’re going back to work, and leaving your furry companion, we want to hear from you.
In addition to being home to men with questionable decision-making skills, Florida also seems to have some issues with bizarre animal behavior, whether it’s freezing iguanas dropping from trees or alligators battling pythons in the Everglades. When it comes to those animals, however, Floridians can truly put the blame on non-natives. Neither pythons nor green iguanas made the sunshine state their home until we brought them there as pets.
In fact, there are lots of problematic invasive species that have spread through the pet trade, from predatory fish that can drag themselves between bodies of water to a crayfish that clones itself to reproduce. Those high-profile cases lead to some obvious questions, like whether pets really are more likely to be invasive and, if so, why?
Two Swiss researchers, Jérôme Gippeta and Cleo Bertelsmeier have now attempted to answer these questions. And their conclusion is that yes, our pets are more likely to be problems.
Dogs orient and move in synchrony with family members, which may have implications for the emotional development of people and pets.
People with nice furniture do have dogs. So how do they do it?
Pet tech company Fi today announced that it has raised a $30 million Series B. The round, led by Chuck Murphy of Longview Asset Management, follows a $7 million Series A raised back in 2019. The round values the startup at north of $200 million.
The New York-based startup specializes in connected dog collars, releasing its Series 2 device late last year. The second-gen version of the product brings some key hardware improvements to the pet tracking device, including battery optimization that gives up to three months of life on a charge (with an average of around 1.5, according to the company).
The device relies on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, sending users a notification when a dog has traveled outside an AI-determined geofenced area.
The company has experienced solid growth since launching in March 2019, and says demand for its product continued to grow in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s still a fairly small operation, but Fi is working on growing its availability in the U.S. The product was made available on the mega-pet online retailer Chewy in Q4 of last year.
“There’s such a huge market in the U.S. that we’re just scratching the surface,” founder and CEO Jonathan Bensamoun tells TechCrunch. “We want to stay focused here. And really make this a household product. The number one limitation to growth is that people just don’t know we exist or that the category exists.”
The company says discussions with large brick and mortar pet retailers are currently “up in the air.” In addition to research, the funding round will go toward marketing and exploring additional retail partnerships to help grow the product’s footprint.
“We’ve been tracking Jonathan and the team at Fi for over a year now and have been incredibly impressed with their execution and rapid growth rate,” AVP partner Courtney Robinson says in a statement offered to TechCrunch. They have established themselves as the clear leader in the emerging category of connected collars, with a device that blows away the competition in terms of design, battery life, and accuracy.”
A survey of tombstones from the oldest continually operating pet cemetery in the U.S. reveals a passion for “Princess.”
Part of the allure of country life is space where pets can run free. I’ve learned the hard way the importance of a leash.
One thing is for certain: She will have a bull terrier by her side and at least another one in her thoughts.
Adoptions set a record in the U.S. early in the pandemic, but now millions of animals could be in danger of being abandoned or returned to shelters.
Every year, around 10 million pets go missing in the U.S., and millions of those end up in shelters where they aren’t always reunited with their owners, due to their lack of identification or a microchip. A new mobile app, Shadow, aims to tackle this problem by leveraging a combination of a volunteer network and A.I. technology to help dog owners, in particular.
The startup is working in partnership with animal shelters and rescue organizations around the U.S. to pull in photos of the dogs they’re currently housing, then supplements this with photos pulled from social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook.
It then uses A.I. technology to match the photograph of the missing dogs to possible matches from nearby shelters or the web.
If there’s not a match found, Shadow will then programmatically set a search radius based on where and when the dog went missing, and suggest other actions that the dog’s owner can take as the next steps.
This includes viewing all the photographs from the shelters directly, in the case that the technology matching process missed a possible match, as well as working with other Shadow users to help crowdsource activities like hanging “Lost Dog” flyers around a neighborhood, for example, among other things.
The app also relies on a network of volunteers who help by also reviewing shelter photographs and broadcasting missing posters to social media sites they use to increase the chances of the dog being found. Dog owners can even advertise a reward in the app to encourage people to help search.
Today, Shadow has grown its volunteer user base to over 30,000. And it’s partnered with the ASPCA, Animal Care Centers of New York and L.A., the Dallas shelter system, and others.
While Shadow is free to use, it makes money through a virtual tipping mechanism when it makes a successful match and the dog is found. It also offers users the ability to buy an Instagram ad in-app for $10. Here, Shadow provides the visual assets and manages the ad-buying process and placement process on owners’ behalf.
The startup, founded by former Zocdoc founder Cyrus Massoumi, has been in a sort of public stealth mode for a few years as it grew beyond its hometown of New York. It’s now offering dog-finding services in 76 counties across 20 U.S. states.
We should note that Massoumi’s exit from Zocdoc was complicated. He sued his co-founders and CFO for orchestrating a plot to oust him from the company during a Nov. 2015 board meeting, claiming fraud. The lawsuit detailed the internal strife inside Zocdoc at the time. A New York Supreme Court judge recently determined this lawsuit, which is ongoing, needs to be filed in Delaware, instead of New York. So a ruling is yet to be determined.
Ahead of this, Zocdoc had been accused by Business Insider of having developed a stressful, “bro culture,” in which young, male employees would make inappropriate remarks about the women who worked there. This was ahead of the larger rise of the Me Too movement, which has since impacted how businesses address these issues in the workplace.
Massoumi disputes the claims were exactly as described by the article. The company had 300 salespeople at the time, and while he agrees some people may have acted inappropriately, he also believes company’s response to those actions was handled properly.
“The allegations were fully investigated at Zocdoc and found to be without merit,” he told TechCrunch, adding that Zocdoc was repeatedly recognized as a “best place to work” while he was CEO. (There were never allegations against Massoumi, but ultimately, the buck stops with the CEO.)
Shadow today claims a different makeup. It has a team twelve people, and two-thirds of its product and engineering team are women. Some Zocdoc investors have also returned to back Massoumi again.
The startup is funded by Founders Fund, Humbition (Massoumi and Indiegogo founder Slava Rubin’s fund), Lux Capital, firstminute Capital, and other angels, including a prior Zocdoc
Despite the complicated Zocdoc history, the work Shadow is doing is solving a problem many people do care about. Millions of pet owners lose their pets to euthanization as they end up at shelters that cannot keep animals indefinitely due to lack of space. Meanwhile, the current system of having lost pet messages distributed across social media can mean many of those posts aren’t seen — especially in larger metros where there are numerous “lost pet” groups.
As Shadow began its work in 2018, it was local to the New York area. Its first year, it reunited 600 dogs. The next year, it reunited 2,000 dogs. The third year, it reunited 5,000 dogs. Today, it’s nearing 10,000 dogs reunited with owners.
More than half of those were since the pandemic began, which saw many new pet owners and increased time spent outdoors with those pets, when dogs can sometimes get loose.
Massoumi says he was inspired to found Shadow after a friend lost his own dog, the namesake Shadow. It took the friend over a month to find the dog after both following false leads and being connected with people who tried to help him.
“I’m thinking to myself, this is something that happens 100 million times a year, globally…and for people who love pets, this is a lost family member,” Massoumi explains. “It seemed to me to be a similar problem that I’d already been solving in healthcare, where there’s fragmentation — people want to see the doctor and the doctor wants to see the patient, but there’s just not a central way to make it work,” he says.
More broadly, he wants to see technology being put to good use to solve problems that people actually care about.
“I think there needs to be more technology that injects the humanity back in what everyone does. I think that it’s very core that’s what we’re doing,” he says.
Shadow’s app is a free download on iOS and Android.
Midwestern Pet Foods Inc. expanded a voluntary recall after fatal levels of a toxin produced by mold were found in some of its products, the F.D.A. said.
In a season of uncommon grief and worry, people far beyond the Westchester County estate from which Gizmo escaped were all too happy to fret about something else, for a change.