Students Create Website to Reunite Owners With Pets Displaced During Disasters

Anyone can upload photos of missing and found pets to EmergencyPetMatcher.

Doctoral students Mario Barrenechea, 25, and Joanne White, 45, developed their website, EmergencyPetMatcher, to help reunite owners and their pets displaced during major events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires.

“It’s really about the crowd,” Barrenechea said. “We see this as a crowd work situation … they can work with each other.”

Users can go on EmergencyPetMatcher and create a profile of a lost pet or of a found pet. Anyone can also propose that photos of a lost pet and a found pet are a match, which people can up-vote or down-vote. Once a match receives enough up-votes, an automatic email goes to both people who posted the photos of the lost pet and the found pet, suggesting that they contact each other.

“It’s very visually-led. It’s like a memory game. A lot of people propagate on social media after a disaster,” White told ABC News. “Everybody could get on this and play that sort of matching game.”

“We want everyone to be able to use it. We’re talking about 4th graders in elementary school ... to elderly citizens,” Barrencechea said.

While the website is ready to launch, it will only go live during the next disaster.

Barrenchea and White hope their website will provide a single location for people to help each other during the next disaster.

“A lot of people are looking for ways to help [during disasters]. It doesn’t matter where they are located in the world,” White said. “With this system … it allows them to be able to help."