Get your paws on this app to help a local shelter

02/22/2015 6:45 AM |
If you're a dog lover, this is an app you should download. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

If you’re a dog lover, this is an app you should download. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Anyone who enjoys animals, leisurely strolls or a combination of the two can take advantage of a new smartphone app that directs cash to a local animal shelter every time they take a walk.

Walk For a Dog uses the location services function on smartphones to track users’ walks and then makes a donation to an animal shelter of their choosing — just for using the app. 

Walk For a Dog, powered by Maryland-based parent company WoofTrax, is one of many fundraising apps to pair sponsorship deals and advertisements with users who want to give back.

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“There are millions of people who are walking their dogs every day,” said WoofTrax CEO and founding partner Doug Hexter. “We are pairing those efforts and creating a social mission that is supported by advertising and sponsorship.”

Donations are funded by the app’s major sponsors, which include pet health insurance company Trupanion and Pet360, an animal parenting and lifestyles website. Shelters can become beneficiaries after providing WoofTrax with proof that they are not-for-profit animal welfare organizations.

The amount donated to a user’s chosen shelter does factor in the number of miles walked. But, according to an October article on The Huffington Post, distance is less important that the number of walkers signed up via the app to support an individual shelter and how often they walk.

“The benefit to [sponsors] is they get to piggyback onto our social mission and it is a great way to reach folks who have pets directly,” Mr. Hexter said, calling it a win-win-win for everybody.”

“We’re promoting the emotional bond for both the canine and the human, there’s the exercise component and then the third win there is the benefit to the animal shelter,” he said.

Southold Animal Shelter kennel attendant Laura Zurek cleans up one of the cat rooms Monday morning. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Southold Animal Shelter kennel attendant Laura Zurek cleans up one of the cat rooms Monday morning. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Since the app was launched last fall, users have walked over three million miles for the benefit of more than 4,500 shelters nationwide and over $65,000 has been donated to shelters specified by the app’s users, according to data provided by WoofTrax.

Mr. Hexter said that even people who don’t have dogs can to participate by choosing the app’s “Walk for Cassie” option, named for his foxhound mix, when they walk.

Pam Greene, executive director of Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton, said “this could be fairly significant for Kent, as a lot of people are out here are walking their dogs on a daily basis. There are a number of good dog parks and preserves with trails they can take advantage of.”

Ms. Greene said all of Kent’s dog volunteer dog-walkers are using the app and that she hopes it inspires others to volunteer at the shelter.

“Going for a walk is great for the dog and it’s great for the walker, too,” she said. “And the more they walk the dogs, the more donations we can get.”

Gabby Glantzman of North Fork Animal Welfare League, which manages town shelters in Riverhead and Southold, said her organization has already received donations via the app. And while it has only been a few dollars, she said, every penny helps them care for animals in need.

“We have a lot of animals that need medical care and that means we have a lot of large medical bills coming in,” Ms. Glantzman said. “We have dogs come in that need all types of surgeries, so every dollar really does count. If you’re going to be walking your dog anyway, why not help other animals at the same time?”

To download the app, visit wooftrax.com.

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