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Spreading puppy love – how Apify uses web automation for good

At Apify, we believe everyone should have easy access to information on the web. We‘re on a mission to make the web more open, transparent and accessible to all. Through our web scraping and automation platform, we‘ve helped analyze billions of web pages and empower users to turn websites into structured data. We take pride in developing robust tools and ethical practices.

Our technical mission sometimes leads to heartwarming stories. Like helping reunite families with their beloved lost pets! Read on to learn how Apify‘s web scrapers help power a mobile app called Shadow that reunites lost dogs with their owners. This inspirational story shows how we can leverage technology for societal good.

From One Dog Lover to an Entire Community

Brad‘s story began back in 2015 when his dog Shadow went missing. After an agonizing 39 days of searching, Brad finally found Shadow again! While overjoyed to reunite with his pup, Brad knew not every dog owner was so lucky.

In fact, roughly 10% of dogs in the U.S. get lost each year, which translates to millions of missing pups! Only about 30% of lost dogs make it back home according to the American Humane Society.

Motivated by his experience, Brad launched a community-powered initiative to improve lost dog reunification rates. His creation was Shadow – a mobile app that leverages crowdsourcing and technology to get more lost pets home safely.

"Losing my best friend Shadow and living through that horrific experience of not knowing whether he was alive or dead – I couldn‘t bear the thought of others going through that. With Shadow‘s app, we can use tech for good to drive commmunity action that reunites more families with their lost pets," Brad shared.

And Brad wasn‘t the only one eager to pay it forward. Kind strangers and friends banded together to aid his search and get Shadow home. Now, the Shadow app empowers and mobilizes a wider community with a common mission – bringing heartbroken dog owners and their lost pets back together again.

How the Shadow App Reunites Lost Dogs

So how exactly does Shadow unite dogs and their humans? The mobile app provides several key features:

Shelter Database

Shadow maintains a real-time database of dogs in shelters across the U.S. Users can quickly search for lost pets in their area and contact the shelter right through the app.

This saves huge time and effort compared to individually calling or visiting shelters in person during a frantic search. Apify‘s army of web scrapers keeps the database continuously updated with the latest shelter intake records. More on that later!

Lost Dog Alerts

Have you seen those AMBER alerts that notify the community when a child goes missing? Shadow has a similar alert system for lost pets. If you report your dog missing in the app, it blasts out notifications across social media and other channels in your vicinity.

This rallies your local community to keep an eye out and join the search. The more eyes the better!

Flyers & Interactive Map

When a dog goes missing, stapling flyers on every lamp post and mailbox is a standard next step. Shadow lets users instantly generate and print flyers right from the app. No need to painstakingly design your own!

An interactive map also tracks where flyers have been posted so search parties can canvass areas methodically. You wouldn‘t want five people blanketing the same block while other zones are missed.

Real-Time Updates

The app continually aggregates the latest intel from volunteers on the ground, flyer postings, social shares, foster families temporarily housing the dog, and more. So the status dashboard is always up-to-the-minute.

Micro-Volunteering Opportunities – Become a Lost Dog Hero!

Shadow also offers micro-volunteering opportunities so regular folks can get involved in saving dogs. With quick, flexible actions like handing out flyers, checking shelters, or sharing on social media – you can become a Hero even with a busy schedule.

Sarah P. recounted her experience after helping reunite a lost Labrador named Luna:

"I felt so relieved knowing that I played a small but important role in getting Luna back home. Shadow made it so easy for me to volunteer. I was able to hand out ‘Missing‘ flyers to pedestrians near where Luna went missing during my lunch break one day. It took just 20 minutes but made a huge difference! It‘s amazing to see what an impact we can have when the community bands together."

The app provides support and instructions so anyone can contribute meaningfully. Over time, users graduate to become more seasoned Heroes. It‘s extremely rewarding to know you brought joy to a grieving pet owner. Who couldn‘t use more of that feel-good energy in their lives?

Apify‘s Web Scrapers – Keeping Shelter Listings Updated

So how does Shadow‘s shelter database stay so timely and comprehensive nationally? Enter Apify and their robust web scraping platform!

Apify developed specialized web scrapers that extract intake records from animal shelters across the country. The bots routinely crawl shelter sites, pluck out key details like photos and descriptions for each dog, and funnel this data back into Shadow‘s system.

The crawlers use Apify‘s proxy rotation to minimize detection and maximize reliability. And Apify handles all the dev ops and server management behind the scenes so Shadow doesn‘t have to worry.

"Integrating Apify‘s web scrapers to keep our shelter listings current saves us huge time and overhead. Now we can focus on our core mission of reuniting pets and owners, rather than maintaining infrastructure." – Claire S., Shadow Software Engineer

If Shadow needs a new crawler customized to a specific shelter site, they can tap Apify‘s talent pool through their unique Marketplace. Developers compete to deliver the optimal scraping solution for each project.

Once built, scrapers run automatically on schedule, keeping the shelter intake data flowing 24/7. The open-source SDK prevents any vendor lock-in too.

Join the Movement – Together We Can Spread Puppy Love!

Have a furry friend who brings you endless joy and companionship? Consider paying that puppy love forward!

If you live in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Francisco or Dallas-Fort Worth, head over to your app store to download Shadow. With just small acts of kindness, you could help reunite heartbroken families.

And developers, lend your web scraping skills to projects that make a real difference! Shadow and many other socially impactful organizations rely on the Apify Marketplace. Let‘s leverage technology for good.

Together, we can put more lost dogs like Shadow back where they belong – in the arms of the families who love them. To get started on your pet reunification journey, download Shadow today!

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