Success Stories

Petnopolis – The Favourite Pet Networking Site

Rufus, a 2 year old, chocolate brown Irish Setter is the latest talk of the town. Other female Irish Setters are keeping an eye on this handsome mutt and plan to meet up for a date very soon. They can’t help but fall in love with Rufus’s latest profile picture, enjoying the evening breeze during a drive with his master. This is not a story, but you can find it for real in one of the most popular pet networking sites in India called Petnopolis.

Petnopolis, literarily meaning ‘City of Pets’, was started by two friends 30-year old Burges Dandiwala, an Advertising Professional and a Web Developer and 29-year-old Zahir Wallani, his business partner who heads the creative and technical aspects of web development.

How did it all begin?

“The idea was first conceived in 2006 when I got Omi, (my pet Rottweiler).  Ever since he entered my life all I could talk about was Omi. Right from his play habits to the way he slept, ate, and barked, everything I spoke or thought about was him.  A lot of my friends would come to visit the new member in our home and most who had pets would ask me the same question, would you know any pet I can breed my dog /cat with.  That’s when I thought of starting a website that would help pet owners find mates for their pets,” mentions Burges.

The idea was still in its nascent stage and very far from being executed. The catalyst came in the form of an injured kitten that Burges came across during one of his walks with Omi.

Burges further adds, “I was still relatively new to handling animals and had absolutely no experience with cats. I did not know how to help the kitten, I called a couple of volunteer help lines and after spending at least 45 minutes  on the phone I got the address to the nearest clinic where I could take her for treatment.”

This pushed Burges to start a platform for animal lovers that would ensure that likeminded people are always around to help each other out for this noble cause. This got the ball rolling and Zahir and Burges got involved into making the biggest project of their lives.

A lesson for life

Burges mentions, “Omi was the inspiration for starting Petnopolis and has been and always will be the biggest inspiration as well as a teacher in my life. The things I failed to learn from life for over two decades, my four-legged best friend taught me in less than a year.  Omi being a Rottweiler always made people wary of him, yet because of his “people happy” upbringing he was as friendly to strangers as any other friendly breed.”

Burges recalls Omi being very intelligent and an extremely secure dog. Burges could leave him alone without a leash outside a coffee shop , he would patiently wait for me to buy his ice cream and come back to him , without any “fear or depression” of being left alone. Even at home he never damaged anything out of a tantrum, whatever property Omi has ever damaged in his lifetime has been out of not being able to contain his excitement and choosing delicate objects as play toys. He loved children and like all animals was naturally gentle playing with a child.

Omi got a paralytic attack and was paralysed hip down. After almost every vet that Burges consulted told him that euthanasia was the only option, but he decided to take his MRI reports to a Neuro physician as well as a Neuro surgeon.

Both doctors were very confident that this was a case of TB and that given the right treatment there would still be a chance of survival. “I really did not believe that he would ever walk again and even ordered a cart for him. After being paralyzed for over four months Omi finally managed to walk on the 7th of September 2010. This brought us a lot of hope and also renewed my faith in “mind over matter”. A dog that everyone had given up hope on showed more grit and determination than most humans I know,” adds Burges.

He further adds, “Unfortunately a month after he started walking, four and half year old Omi succumbed to a gastro infection and parted ways from us. It all happened overnight; he was fine at night, in the morning we found him sleeping with his eyes open. He has not only been the inspiration for Petnopolis, but also a constant reminder to never give up.”

Challenges faced
One of the main challenges that Burges and Zahir faced was that people who were posting in the adoptions section on Petnopolis were unable to track the response easily. The same problem was also found for the mating section as well.

They revised both sections by having an auto search and mail feature that would generate a report of the adoption / mating matches and mail them directly to the interested individuals. So for example, if you put up a 3-month-old hybrid dog for adoption then the system would automatically mail you details of interested individuals and your adoption posting details would be mailed to them. This makes life a lot easier for the user and also gives the animals more of a chance at getting adopted faster.

“We also have a doctor on board to help with any pet related health queries that the users might have. We have a host of articles to help users in not only selecting but also having an overall satisfying relationship with their pet,” adds Burges.

What makes Pentopolis so unique
Petnopolis is a one-stop shop for animal lovers. It’s a social networking site, with information as well as actual pets for adoptions as well as mating. It’s not just a blog or a page, it’s a virtual city dedicated to animals and it’s growing every day.

“We have over 8,000 members, dogs and cats are the most common pets however a lot of members from Canada, Australia and the US also have horses , birds and turtles! The most uncommon pets that I have come across is a rabbit and a cocker spaniel living together in the same house in Mumbai and getting along like best buddies,” quips Burges.

Petonpolis is more than willing to dedicate adoption pages to any organisation supporting the cause. The more visibility these animals get the more the chances of their being adopted.

Unfortunately the number of people who would be willing to adopt a hybrid Indian dog is very low compared to those willing to adopt strays. Yet there are some great individuals out there who only adopt strays knowing that they have a lesser chance of getting adopted.

Tips on keeping a pet in a City

Burges offer five main tips to people who wish to adopt a pet.

#1 Don’t get a pet if you are not going to have time.

#2 It’s a lifetime commitments (pets life time) so think ten times before getting one.

#3 If your house is too small that’s okay, as long as you ensure that you pet gets adequate exercise outside.

#4. Choose a pet based on the environment and your lifestyle, not status.

#5.  Adopt a stray; you will be saving a life that way. They are hardier in the urban environment.

Petnopolis was started for animal lovers and would move forward in all directions. All future plans are formulated only after user feedback. Though there is one social cause we will be tackling soon. Will keep you posted once the module is completed.

Before signing off, Burges mentions that the pet industry has definitely grown over the years with so many pet salons as well as established product brands and magazines entering the market.  Businesses have become more “aware” of the bond between owner and pet. It’s this bond that has given rise growth to the pet industry over the past few years.

So if you’re a pet lover who owns a pet or two, then sign up your four-legged pal on and unfold the world full of happy pet faces!

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Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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