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.
Midwestern Pet Foods Inc. issued the voluntary recall after tests showed that aflatoxin, which is produced by mold, exceeded acceptable levels, the F.D.A. said.
Midwestern Pet Foods Inc. issued the voluntary recall after tests showed that aflatoxin, which is produced by mold, exceeded acceptable levels, the F.D.A. said.
For most of us, snakes are as much symbol as animal. But I haven’t communed with a metaphor for all these years.
Valerie Louie rescued dogs and matched them with families, including ours. These beloved pets helped countless people bear up during the pandemic, making her death a particular Covid-19 cruelty.
Emotional support animals are considered pets instead of service animals under the new rules, which go into effect next month.
The last cat to live in the White House, India, belonged to President George W. Bush.
The long tradition of presidential pets is set to resume this January with two German shepherds belonging to President-elect Joe Biden. Their predecessors weren’t always cats and dogs.
President Trump was the first president not to have a White House pet in more than 100 years. Mr. Biden will bring two German shepherds, one of which was adopted from a shelter.
A new experiment confirmed that cats can spread the virus to one another, and found dogs did not shed the virus. There’s still no evidence that pets transmit it to humans.
As seniors find themselves cut off from loved ones during the pandemic, some are turning to automated animals for company.
When neighbors start feeding feral cats, you may find your property overrun. Here’s how to deal with it.
Neither house sitters nor jetting off for the weekend are possibilities for most dog owners who want to travel right now. So these furry friends are increasingly curled up in the back (or front) seat, enjoying the ride.
The star of this short documentary calls himself ‘Catman.’
Pets have provided much-needed emotional support this year. But they need to be taken care of, too. Meet one of their doctors.
Usually during an economic downturn, people tend to spend less on health care for pets. This time, the opposite is happening.
The pandemic is hard on our dogs and cats, too.
Animal Haven was always rescuing animals. Now the shelter is doing it on the front lines.
The world’s hardware haven is taking a digital leap for pets. In May, China’s southern city Shenzhen announced that all dogs must be implanted with a chip, joining the rank of the U.K., Japan, Australia and a growing number of countries to make microchips mandatory for dogs.
This week, city regulators began to set up injection stations across their partnering pet clinics, according to social media posts from the Shenzhen Urban Management Bureau.
The chip, which is said to last for at least 15 years and comes in the size of a grain of rice, is implanted under the skin of a dog’s neck. Each chip, when scanned by authorized personnel, reveals a unique 15-digit number matching the dog’s name and breed, as well as its owner’s identity and contact information — which will help reduce strays. The microchip, a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip, doesn’t track the dog’s location; nor does the authority store its owner’s personal information, according to a local media report.
While Shenzhen’s poster child of technology Huawei is striving to phase out foreign semiconductor parts amid U.S. trade sanctions, the city is procuring imported pet chips, including American and Sweden brands, said the same report.
The Shenzhen government is footing the bill for all the implants as it aims to seize more regulatory oversight over the city’s growing pet population. Those who don’t get their dogs microchipped by November will face a fine or have to turn their pets over to regulators. The city of over 20 million residents owned around 200,000 dogs and cats in 2019, according to official data. The total number of dogs and cats nationwide grew 8.4% year-over-year to nearly 1 billion in 2019, an industry white paper showed.
Telemedicine is becoming more widely embraced by the day — and not just for humans. With a pet in roughly 65% of U.S. homes, there is now a dizzying number of companies enabling vets to meet with their furry patients remotely, including Petriage, Anipanion, TeleVet, Linkyvet, TeleTails, VetNOW, PawSquad, Vetoclock and Petpro Connect.
One of these — a two-year-old, 13-person, LA-based startup called Airvet — unsurprisingly thinks it is the best among the bunch, and it has persuaded investors of as much. Today, the company is announcing $14 million in Series A funding led by Canvas Ventures, with participation by e.ventures, Burst Capital, Starting Line, TrueSight Ventures, Hawke Ventures and Bracket Capital, as well as individual investors.
The pandemic played a role in Canvas’s decision, as did a smart model, suggests general partner Rebecca Lynn, who says she has looked at many telemedicine startups over the last 11 years and that she fell for Airvet after using the service for the animals that live on her own small farm. While vets were initially slow to embrace the shift to more telehealth visits, Airvet has “solved” some of the “objections unique to the space,” she says. Plus, “COVID has been a massive accelerant to adoption.”
We asked Airvet’s founder and CEO, Brandon Werber, to make the company’s case to us separately.
TC: Why start the company?
BW: My dad is one of the most well-known vets in the U.S. — celebrity vet Dr. Jeff Werber. We saw the impact that telehealth was making in the human world and wanted to bring the same access and level of care we get for ourselves to our pets. Since I grew up in the pet space, I know it intimately and recognized a lot of inefficiencies in the delivery of care and how vets have been unable to meet the evolving expectations of pet owners.
TC: How are you connecting vets with their pet patients?
BW: We have two apps. One is for pet-owners to download to talk with a vet, and one is for vets to download to organize workflows and talk to their clients. We do not usurp any existing vet relationships. Instead, we partner with vet clinics and enable them to conduct telehealth visits and simultaneously enable pet-owners to have access to vets 24/7, even if they don’t live nearby a vet hospital.
A huge portion of pet owners in the U.S. don’t even have a primary vet. For serious health issues like surgery, animals still need to go in-person, and network vets can even refer them. We’ve also seen Airvet used as curbside check-in, where pet-owners can chat and follow their pet’s in-person vet appointment via live video from the parking lot.
TC: I see there is a minimum charge of $30 per visit. How do you make this model work financially for vets?
BW: Vets view us as an additional revenue-generating tool on top of their base income. We don’t hire vets. Our network of 2,600+ vets are largely the same vets who use Airvet within their own hospital. They can decide at will, like an Uber driver, to swipe online to be part of the on-demand network and take calls from pet parents anywhere in the country to generate additional income.
TC: What have you learned from startups that tried this model before?
BW: All the startups that came before us are not consumer-first and are just focused on building tools for vets, so their platforms cannot be used by every pet owner. Instead, they can only be used by pet owners whose own vets use that specific platform, which is a tiny fraction of vets and therefore a tiny fraction of pet parents.
TC: Do you have ancillary businesses? Beyond these vet visits, are you selling anything else?
BW: For now, just the vet visits, which range from a $30 minimum to higher, based on the vet and specialty. Over time, we have plans and partnerships lined up to expand into other pet health verticals.
A projected $99 billion will be spent on pets in the U.S. alone in 2020, and for us, telemedicine is only the beginning.
TC: Does Airvet involve specific practice management software?
BW: No. We provide the workflow layer enabling vets to schedule virtual appointments, which will soon be able to be fully integrated with their existing systems and workflows.
TC: When a customer calls a vet for $30, is there a time limit?
BW: There is no time limit and cases will usually stay open for three full days, so pet parents can continue to access the vet via chat for any follow-up questions or concerns.
TC: Are you competing at all on pricing?
BW: Our goal is to work alongside the hospitals, not to compete with them or replace them. You can’t take blood virtually or feel a tumor or do a dental. People always will need to go to the vet.
What we want to do is help [pet owners] understand when [to come in]. The average pet parent only goes to the vet 1.5 times a year. A huge segment of users on Airvet have already connected with a vet six times more than that and save time and stress in doing so.
It’s not about competing for us, it’s about being the provider of care in between office visits [and helping] pet parents who have used our service ultimately avoid an unnecessary emergency visit.
A task force will target the suppliers of the illegal fireworks that have been booming across the city for weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The pandemic’s human toll in New York has been well documented. But what about the dogs and cats of those who become seriously ill?
How to care for your new cat or dog during and after lockdown.
A team at Duke University detected the virus in the dog this month.
What if Donald Trump had become the owner of a Goldendoodle?
Clipping your dog’s coat is not exactly a fetch in the park.
The answer is a no-brainer for dog owners, although some of their neighbors might still be on the fence.
New pets can offer companionship, but don’t forget to provide proper care and to socialize them even while you’re maintaining social distance.
OneDegree, the Hong Kong-based insurance technology startup, launched its first product today, a line of medical plans for pets called Pawfect Care. The company will introduce other products, including cyber insurance and medical coverage for humans, all available completely online, over the next 12 months.
Co-founder and CEO Alvin Kwock told TechCrunch that it took OneDegree two years to launch Pawfect Care because of the stringent regulatory approval process required to get an insurance license in Hong Kong.
The first two virtual insurance licenses issued by Hong Kong’s Insurance Authority went to companies owned by existing insurance providers (Sun Life’s Bow Tie and Asia Insurance’s Avo), in an effort to encourage more legacy players to go digital. OneDegree was the first independent insurance company to start online to be granted a license.
OneDegree will gradually launch cyber and human medical insurance plans over the next year. Kwock said the COVID-19 pandemic has created a “paradigm shift,” because face-to-face activities have declined dramatically, and the Insurance Authority is now issuing new virtual insurance licenses and allowing more products to be sold online.
The company decided to start with pet insurance because the company estimates that even though there are about half a million pet dogs and cats in Hong Kong, only about 3% of them have medical insurance despite the high cost of veterinary care. OneDegree lets customers buy and manage policies and file claims through a mobile app. It says that about 90% of approved claims will be paid within two working days.
In response to the pandemic, Pawfect Care’s pet insurance includes coverage of medical costs related to COVID-19. OneDegree emphasizes that there have only been a few known cases of pets testing positive for the virus so far and no evidence of them acting as carriers so far, but added the coverage for customers’ peace of mind.
The animals appear to have mild symptoms and likely caught the virus from their owners. And there’s no evidence pets can pass it to humans.
Spain, which is enduring one of the world’s biggest and deadliest outbreaks, grapples with moral and practical questions on caring for animals when their owners are suddenly sick.
Ask yourself these questions and think about these issues before you adopt. Your life — and that of your new pet — will be better for it.
When I went to Europe, people asked: Is something wrong with American dogs? The answer has more to do with us than our pets.