The lost dog app

Case study

Shadow is a community-led organization whose mission is to reunite lost dogs with their humans. They use technology to allow you to virtually check shelters and their own extensive database of lost and found dogs. Their service also generates and keeps track of flyers, as well as alerts your network about the search via “Amber Alert” style messages and through social media. The app is regularly updated with real-time information from Volunteers, shelters, social media, foster families, and more.

Challenge

There is currently no US-wide centralized service that tracks lost and found dogs. Shadow's goal is not only to gather as much information from animal shelter listings as possible, but also to make searching and rescuing lost dogs as smooth as possible. Without the right tools, extracting data from so many animal shelters and keeping it up to date can be a daunting task. Each shelter's website requires a customized scraping solution as each has a different structure and different underlying technology. Because of that, keeping the development and maintenance costs in check quickly becomes a priority.

Solution

Using serverless apps hosted on the Apify platform, Shadow crawls hundreds of thousands of listings at regular intervals across the entire United States. It is then able to include those listings into their app through dedicated API endpoints. Shadow users using the app to search for their dogs are shown the most relevant entries of found dogs based on the information they provide. Volunteers are shown images of recently lost dogs in their area. After the proof-of-concept phase, Shadow started using the services of certified developers on Apify Marketplace to outsource the development and maintenance of new scrapers. The process is commitment-free and includes a 14 days money back guarantee. It is also cost-effective owing to the extensive experience of the certified developers.

Benefits

Having animal shelter lost and found listings in one place reduces the time and hassle involved in searching for lost dogs. But the benefits don't stop there! Shadow’s mobile app allows people to find the location of the closest animal shelter, contact it, and virtually check the lost and found dogs through the app. Indeed, the app is constantly updated with real-time information from a variety of sources. The Shadow app automatically sends out alerts about lost dogs via “Amber Alert” style messages through social media and other channels. Shadow also has lots of handy features like a street flyer that you can share or print directly through your device, alongside an interactive map tool so that you and your search party can keep track of where flyers have been posted.

Apify allows us to include shelter listings in our app so people can manage the search for their lost dog in one single place. Apify’s reliable and efficient system allows us to quickly update our content to stay in sync with the shelters so users can find their dogs fast.

Author picture

Tyler Barrington

Software Engineer at Shadow