Late-night phone calls. Urgent emails. Constant emergencies.
People who volunteer with animal-welfare groups do it because they love animals, but they learn quickly that the work is never done. Consequently, things that other organizations tend to focus on as a matter of course end up being neglected.
“The last thing that we can work on is the website,” said Sarah Schmidt, a volunteer and former board member of Sweet Dream House Rescue “That’s the last thing that we worry about as a rescue.”
Jayme Basil, 27, is trying to pick up the slack by creating Fureverhome.com, a social-media website for animal-welfare organizations that strives “to eliminate the disjointed structure provided for nonprofits today by consolidating everything they need in one user-friendly location.”
Based out of the HCDC Business Center in Evanston, Fureverhome just celebrated its first birthday at the end of June.
Basil, a University of Cincinnati graduate with a degree in digital design, first realized there was a niche for her idea when she was working as a freelance designer and videographer in Los Angeles a few years ago. Basil wanted to find volunteer opportunities to fill her downtime, but the websites of the animal groups she looked into were hard to navigate.
“It seemed like all of the animal-welfare organizations’ resources were super-scattered and poorly designed,” Basil said. “So I was, like, ‘Maybe this is what I should do with the time I have off.’ So I started designing it.”
Basil has loved dogs for as long as she can remember. She recalls running down the street in her socks after a dog that had escaped its owner when she was 5 years old. She estimates she’s personally reunited about 30 pets with their owners.
So far, 32 groups have signed on to the website, which helps them identify volunteers, announce events and match animals with new owners. A counter at the bottom of the site shows that more than 1,100 pets have been adopted, thanks to Fureverhome.
Sweet Dream House Rescue was the first organization Basil got to sign up. Basil had adopted a dog from Sweet Dream, which Schmidt describes as a “last-ditch rescue” that pulls dogs from high-kill shelters in the rural parts of Ohio, Kentucky, and beyond.
Basil and Schmidt became fast friends, and in August, Basil organized PsycHOPuppy Yappy Hour, a fundraiser for Sweet Dream held at MadTree Brewing Company. The event was such a success, the second annual PsycHOPuppy will be held July 25.
Fureverhome-led events like PsycHOPuppy will continue to be a part of the business, Basil said. She envisions renting out Washington Park in August 2017 to hold a huge pet adoption event, a goal she acknowledges is pretty ambitious.
“I tend to get ahead of myself,” Basil laughed.
Fureverhome is a work in progress. Basil is working on a mobile app, but development is slow going. The company isn’t monetized yet, but Basil envisions charging modest animal-adoption application and processing fees to keep the site running and growing. Donations to a recently approved Fureverhome Foundation nonprofit are starting to come in, though, which is cause for encouragement.
Fureverhome is fighting an uphill battle against entrenched animal adoption websites like PetFinder and AdoptAPet. But Campbell County Animal Shelter Director Lisa Bowman thinks that Fureverhome will become a player going forward.
“I think once people start to notice that website, it’s going to be a huge success to get these animals out,” Bowman said. “It just needs a little more publicity.”
In the meantime, the focus is to continue to get more organizations in Cincinnati on board, and then move into other markets.
Eventually, Basil wants to take Fureverhome to Austin, Texas, one of the most pet-friendly cities in the country.