Join Lorien Clemens and Chris Roy as they talk about his background in animal rescue, the issues facing animal welfare organizations, and how his tool makes life easier for fosters and shelters. Chris' company Doobert helps fosters communicate with shelters and transport animals in a volunteer friendly way!
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00:02 Lorien Clemens
Hey pet lovers! Welcome to Pet Lover Geek powered by PetHub I'm Lorien Clemens and today we are talking about rescues and how folks are out there saving even more pets every year with very special services like the one we're going to talk about today. So many animals out there don't get the love and safety that they deserve and they have all sorts of challenges, let's say, in order just to get into their homes. So the guy I'm talking to today, one of my favorite people, is Chris Roy, and he and I are gonna be digging into the topic about rescues and how to get them where they need to go. So we're talking about Doobert. It's a software tool that helps rescues and fosters work together to help volunteers find pets homes. I mean isn't that awesome. So Chris started Doobert almost a decade ago, is that right Chris?
00:53 Chris Roy
00:55 Lorien Clemens
That's crazy that it's been almost that long. That's not quite a decade, but it's been a long time, and you're here to chat with us today about the great solutions. So Chris, welcome to the show.
01:04 Chris Roy
Thank you Lorien. Glad to be here.
01:06 Lorien Clemens
Everybody stick around 'cause we're gonna have a great conversation with Chris about everything that Doobert does for dogs and cats and rescues, hang tight.
01:15 Music Break
01:36 Lorien Clemens
Okay Chris, let's get going. Talk to us about Doobert. I'd love it if you could actually give us kind of a quick history of how you got to where you got with Doobert.
01:47 Chris Roy
Yeah, so as I mentioned so Doobert started out really as a tool that was helping me coordinate my own rescues. So one of my other passions is aviation as a pilot. I was doing all sorts of rescue flights and couldn't keep track of where I was going and which rescue, and from and to, and all that stuff. So I kind of started it with that idea, and very quickly realized that it wasn't just a problem for me, right? It was a problem everybody else had. So when I launched it in 2014, it was literally to allow volunteers to you know, register for a particular leg of a transport, and allow the organizations to post the transports, and everything was automated since I didn't have time to do it all for them, working a day job, and you know, launched it with just that idea in mind is how do we provide a tool to make it easier to coordinate these rescue relay transports, both for ground and air, and it's just really kind of grown now over the years where we've just focused on solving other problems, and you know enhancing the transport to different types of transport, and adding more capabilities for fund raising and fostering, and you know, just it's been a journey. Seven years seems like a long, long, long time, but it's really been a fun journey to get to where we are now.
03:05 Lorien Clemens
Yeah, and some of our listeners obviously know about the fact that there's a lot of transportation involved with getting rescues into places where they need more adoptable pets, right? But my guess is that some people have no idea about the level of exchange that goes about in the country, and can you talk a little bit about that so that people really have a context of like why this is so challenging?
03:30 Chris Roy
Yeah, I'm happy to. I mean I always say to people if you think about it, there is no Amazon Prime for animals, right? So there's no delivery service, and when you look across the country and you look at the overpopulation of animals, so the latest numbers are about 625,000 companion animals are still euthanized in the US every year. Way, way, way too many, way down from what it used to be, but still way too many, and so there are definitely areas of more animals -- overpopulation, and then areas that have less. Well how do you get them there? Because these are living, sentient beings. You can't just pack them up in a box and send them via Amazon Prime. So what happens is you've got to find methods and modes of transport. There are some bigger commercial type transport services -- so the ASPCA is the largest transport of animals. They move about 40,000 animals a year, generally from more southern states and generally to more northern states. But really transports go North, South, East, West -- because when you break it down you think about it. If you have a population of, say, Chihuahuas, maybe you're in the southwestern United States where Chihuahuas are very prevalent, lots of, you know overpopulation of Chihuahuas. But in the Midwest or on the East Coast. You don't have any. Well, how do you? How do you get them there? So it becomes this coordinated type of transport, so rescue groups in particular do what's called a rescue relay transport, and the best way to describe this is remember in high school right? When you do the relay race where one person hands the baton to the next to the next. Same kind of idea. So if you were going say, from Dallas to Atlanta. Draw a line and break it into legs of the journey, about 60 to 80 miles each, and you know the first person picks up the animal, likely at the shelter, drives them to a meeting point. Meets the second person, hands them off, and on and on and on it goes, and Doobert is the only software that supports this. It's the only thing that's custom built specifically to coordinate this with the tools that these guys need. So we're really trying to fill that niche to get volunteers that want to help, get them involved, and then provide that tool to make it easy for these rescues and shelters to actually coordinate and schedule the transport.
05:48 Lorien Clemens
Yeah, and it's funny because I know that here locally I was actually just talking recently with somebody who they had seen a post from our local Humane Society saying that they had got another delivery of Texas pups, you know, kind of thing and somebody said why aren't we helping the animals that live here? Why are we bringing in Texas dogs, it's like you don't understand, those Texas dogs are actually getting a second chance at life and our shelter would be empty if we didn't have this transport coming in because knowing the folks that work at our local shelter as well as I do, I mean they would -- I mean now cats, they don't need more cats, but as far as doggos particularly, those smaller dogs, they are very difficult to keep them adoptable dogs out there and obviously we want to get them into homes, so it's a core service. I'd love it if you could explain a little bit -- because you mentioned that you were also helping with fosters and other software solutions, so can you talk about kind of the breadth of what Doobert can do, and all those different challenges that you're helping solve?
06:48 Chris Roy
Yeah, absolutely. So as I said, we kind of started with the rescue relay transport, and then we started to realize that there were other types of transports, so we call them local rides or clinic rides. You know, if there's an animal that needs to be picked up at the shelter and brought to say an adoption event, or picked up and brought to a foster, or brought back from the foster. So those are really is as close as you can get to Uber for animals, and it's all volunteer based. So once we started building on some of the transport things, we started saying, well, how else can we engage these Doobertiers, that's what we refer to our volunteers, so we're closing in fast on 35,000 Doobertiers across the US and Canada I should add, and we started to say, well, what else could they do? And being an animal rescue foster is there's always more fosters needed, and so we said, well how do we truly revolutionize this space so that it's a two way tool where the foster can be actively engaged in helping to promote and find a forever home for their animal, and how do we make it so that the organizations can manage and communicate with their fosters. So we launched it literally just about a year ago now, we launched our foster space module, and the idea behind that is that now the organizations can post about a particular animal that needs a foster. The people can apply or you know, sign up to be the foster for that animal, and once they're accepted now they can actually have a two way text message communication, very simply, they can send pictures and they can send videos and communicate about that animal. So we've made it really easy for organizations that might have 100 or some even have a 1,000 fosters. I mean, imagine trying to manage 1,000 people, and communicate with them, and keep track of all the animals, and all the status, and all those other kinds of things. And so we wanted to try and say how can we use technology to do that? And then we just keep looking for different ways. I mean one of the premises behind our video tool. We call it rescue tube, a little bit of a play on YouTube. The hardest thing is to get video, but we know how compelling video is. So having a video of a animal in foster, cat in particular. Dogs for sure, is much more compelling than just a picture, but there's no way for you to text a video unless it's like 10 seconds, and it doesn't do much. So we custom built into the Doobert mobile app, that the organizations could create a bucket, you know, name it whatever they want for a particular animal or group of animals, and they give this number to the volunteers who just type it in the Doobert mobile app and then they can upload pretty much unlimited videos to that organization. So we're trying to build the collaboration tools, build the tools that actively get the volunteers connected and engaged with the shelters and rescues, to help them, because that's why we all do this as we're all trying to coordinate and help more animals.
09:48 Lorien Clemens
So you mentioned that, you know, they can upload it to the rescue themselves, so you're not actually the rescue site or the adoption site or anything like that. So is there integration there? Is there futures of integration there? I mean what -- I mean because clearly there's a lot of challenges out there that need to be met, and so I would just love to hear about -- more about you. Can you talk about, you know, what are those problems as challenges in the rescue industry that either you're actively solving or you look to be solving as you move forward.
10:18 Chris Roy
Yeah, really great point because there's a lot of shel-- well they call it shelter management software, and as you know, there's literally hundreds of adoption websites, not to even mention the ones that are embedded in the local shelter's website. So I didn't want to be one more right. Another me too. I really wanted us to focus in the space between, so there is software when somebody brings an animal to the shelter, their software that manages animals, workflow lifecycle, if you will, through the shelter. You know, vaccinations and what crate they're in, and you know adoption requests, and all those other things. There's -- I would say hundreds of adoption sites out there with software that manage people applying, but there's really nothing in between, so there wasn't anything that focused on transport, or when the animal is in foster. Yeah, they can log that in their system, but they can't communicate with that person. So you had people that were sharing phones and passing phones back and forth, and who's covering the foster phone this weekend? Very, very inefficient, and they could only do it, you know, one at a time. So we continue to try and say how do we be the bridge between? So we've built integrations that we can import from pretty much every shelter management software, we can upload from Excel any of the animal profiles, you can add them manually in Doobert, so we have animal profiles in Doobert that have pictures, have information that can come from those, and then on the other end we -- with our foster space we built these ambassador pages. So you as the foster are kind of managing almost an adoption page for the animal, but then when somebody's interested, we're basically redirecting that interest to the application process that the organization already has, so we're trying to sit in between to solve some of these -- in my opinion, more difficult challenges, because anybody can make another shelter management software, right? It's an inventory system, or anybody can make another adopter application system, but I really wanted to say how do we solve these harder challenges with communications, and workflows, and you know some of those other things? So they -- we streamline this because the more that we streamline this, the more time that we save, the more efficient we make the shelters, the rescues, the volunteers, the more animals are going to save, and that's always been my premise from day one.
12:37 Lorien Clemens
Yeah, and I'd love if you could chat about like, what is that impact that you've had, the animals that you're saving, especially if you have like some really like killer stories. I mean obviously we like the fun rescue stories, or you know, bigger efforts. But like how is it effective? Like how is it gone?
12:53 Chris Roy
It's gone really well. I mean we've now -- we've done more than 15,000 animal transports in the last seven years, which is way more than I could have done myself, way more than I ever could have driven or flown or anything like that. We've really started to get a lot more engagement now on the foster side of things and that's really exciting to me, is to get more people engaged. Fostering is such a rewarding experience, and when you recognize that your job as a foster is to really help them to find, not just any home, but that perfect home, right? So how do you? How do you capture the personality of that animal? How do you market that animal? How do you, you know, assisting the rescues and the shelters to do that? But how do you think through the lens of somebody that's looking to adopt? What would they be looking for? Is this? You know, is this animal fun? Or they you know quiet and reserved? Do they follow you around the house, or they wanting to go running with you? Are they a cat that sleeps all day, or do they love to play in catnip? Like there's so many different things, so giving people that opportunity to get engaged as fosters. That's why I'm really excited 'cause that piece of it is really starting to grow, particularly with Covid. So we're having more and more of that impact. And, you know, I always tell people, I say, my goal is that were the software, right, you're doing the hard work, and I just want to be there to help. I want to be there to provide the software that streamlines things, organizes things, makes it that much easier. So we're working on a whole bunch of other things. We're always working on something, but you know, we're working on this case management module, which will be just really cool. It'll integrate multiple types of you know messaging, and text messaging, and workflows that they can create. You know we're redoing the Doobert mobile app, or like, we just got so many things going on that are going to help increase that impact, and that's really what it's all about to me, is to see how many more animals we can help. What we're realizing is that it's not just they have to be moved from high kill shelter to a no kill shelter. There's so many reasons for transport, there's so many different types of reasons for foster cases. When you get into even just case management, you can think about community cats, or you know, how do you help community cats? How do you track things? How do we use data to start to realize hey, we could have a bigger impact if we focus in this area? How do we build tools where these shelters can actually communicate and work with one another? They've never really had to do that, but it's becoming more and more a necessity now, so they're almost like independently owned and operated. Each shelter, there's about 5,000 shelters across the US, and anywhere between 20 and 25,000 rescue groups, and you know, so they use email, maybe, but if you don't know about somebody, how do you meet them, so we're focused on building some new tools to --think of it -- I call it like a dating app for shelters, right? Like how do you find somebody that's going to work well with you, as either a source or a destination, and then the two of you can work together to save more animals.
16:02 Lorien Clemens
Yeah, I love that. We need a match.com for all these rescues and shelters kind of thing. It's funny, but comes up all the time, when you'll be like, oh well why don't you call so and so? And I've never heard of that, that group or what have you. So yeah, that would be great. You know, as software eats our world, we could use software to really help us solve these problems of communication, because the world is getting smaller. There's no doubt about it, and the pandemic has only put that into focus more. I have to know this is in the back of my mind the entire time, so I'm just gonna ask, how did you come up with the name Doobert?
16:35 Chris Roy
That's probably the most common question people ask, and the story of Doobert. Doobert actually was a cat, so his stories out on the website if you go to the about section. So you know I've always been a geek, so I was a big Star Trek geek back in the 90s and loved Star Trek the Next Generation and my first cat I named Jean-Luc. Right?
16:55 Lorien Clemens
16:56 Chris Roy
Jean-Luc Picard, right? Captain Picard, and when I got my second cat, you know, of course people at work were teasing me. Are you going to name him Jordy or Warf, or you know? And I said no. I needed to name him Jean-Luc's nemesis, and who's Jean-Luc's nemesis in the show? It was Q.
17:12 Lorien Clemens
Q, yeah, yeah.
17:13 Chris Roy
And then so, you know, as we kind of do with pet names, I mean Q kind of becomes Qubert, and if you remember the 80s video game right?
17:20 Lorien Clemens
17:21 Chris Roy
It was Qubert, and then somehow Qubert became Doobert, and the name kind of stuck, and he was a -- not the brightest cat, but he was the most lovable ball of fur. I mean Doobert would wake up from a nap and he'd be like up in our bedroom and he would just go cry, right? Like wreoow! And we'd go, Dooobert, and he would keep crying, and he would kind of sound his way down to find where we were, like, hey, there you are! Now it's time to snuggle, and the name kind of stuck, and so when I was trying to come up with a website, I wanted something short, and memorable, and easy to spell, and all those other things, and so I landed on Doobert and the name kind of stuck, and now it's -- we've built a brand and I'm really excited to see where it's gonna go.
18:02 Lorien Clemens
That's awesome. Okay, as a fellow Trekkie, if you have not read the Bobaverse by Dennis Taylor.
18:08 Chris Roy
18:09 Lorien Clemens
You have to! It's like the most random. Like fun, geeky sci-fi thing, and it's about 8 books, but it's like candy. You just inhale these books, but clearly the author is obsessed with Star Trek and they're funny, and so it's called the Bobaverse, and it's Dennis Taylor, so total-total, like you know, random, but what have you? I'm always like, oh I wonder about dogs, cats? That's kind of obvious. Any other kinds of animals in the system?
18:43 Chris Roy
That has been really interesting for me. I mean, Doobert has been used -- I mean there are bird rescues out there. There are rabbit or bunny rescues out there. There are rat rescues out there. We have a rat rescue signed up on Doobert, not my personal pet.
19:00 Lorien Clemens
Oh I love ratty's. Ratty's are awesome. Yeah they're fabulous pets. That's awesome though you have one that's using your system.
19:07 Chris Roy
That's what I mean and it's like, you know, there's so many different reasons. I've always been eyeing the wildlife side of things. I think there's a lot of transport that goes on there. Even farm sanctuaries. I mean it's a little bit harder if you're transporting a horse, or a cow, or a goat than a smaller companion animal, but you know, I look at it as the technology behind this can be used to just help coordinate and communicate. So we're working on some stuff hopefully to help out with some equine. So horse transport.
19:35 Lorien Clemens
19:36 Chris Roy
And the sky is the limit. I mean to me it's whatever we can do that will help animals.
19:39 Lorien Clemens
And right now it's just North America, USA and Canada based?
19:44 Chris Roy
So we just a couple months ago opened it up to Australia. So we're trying to -- Australia is very different because it's very, very widespread. It's not very populated, so the way transport works there is very different so -- but it is available in Australia. We're trying to learn how we can, you know, keep building on that, and ironically enough India, and that was -- my development teams actually in India and they asked me if we could make it enabled there, and I said yeah let's go ahead and do it. So we're kind of figuring our way out, and the goal is that, you know, we'll make it available to any country -- anybody that really wants to use it. If it can help them get coordinated, communicate together and work with volunteers to save animals then we're happy to do it.
20:28 Lorien Clemens
Awesome, so last question as we're wrapping this up. How do people get involved? I mean there's got to be a couple of sides here, right?
20:34 Chris Roy
Yeah, great question.
20:35 Lorien Clemens
How do I get involved? What are the different ways that I can work with Doobert?
20:37 Chris Roy
Sure, sure! So we've tried to make it super easy, so if you just go to the website, you know, on your phone, on your desktop, just go to Doobert.com. There's a big sign up button, and the first thing that'll happen when you click on it. It'll say, "just me" or "my organization", and if you're signing up as a volunteer, just click, "just me". You can create an account really easily, and then we'll help you to choose the types of profiles you want. So if you say, listen I don't want to do transport, but I'm happy to be a foster. You can set up your foster profile. If you want to help out as an in-person volunteer or photographer, or you know, there's all these different profiles that we've created so that you manage your profile. You put in your ZIP code so that we know, kind of where you are, and then we're now coordinating that with the other side of the software. So for those rescues or shelter organizations, they click sign up and they click. You know my organization, and they can build out their organization, and they're the ones that are really posting, say, transport requests and foster requests. So we're using that two-sided platform to marry the two up. So if you are a -- depending on the type of profile you have, if you're in that area, either where the transport comes through, or where they're looking for a foster, you'll automatically be notified by the system. Either through a text message, an email, or in-app notification, and we'll basically try and connect you into that -- whatever that transaction is, right. If it's a transport, we'll show you the relevant legs and things like that that you can sign up for, so super, super simple. It takes like 30 seconds for you to go ahead and get signed up, and off you go.
22:14 Lorien Clemens
Awesome. I love it, and for those that are listening, spell it for us so we make sure we have the right website.
22:21 Christ Roy
Sure! It's Doobert.com. DOOBERT, Doobert.com.
22:26 Lorien Clemens
Fantastic, anything else you want to make sure that we know about before we sign off for the day.
22:30 Chris Roy
I just encourage people, please volunteer, right? You don't have to do it every day, every week, even once a month. There's just so many opportunities for you to get involved and be a foster, be a transporter, and just be supportive of this. So if you love animals and you want to get involved, then we'd love to have you.
22:47 Lorien Clemens
Yeah, shout out to all my pilot friends. I have a strange, but because of some relationships I have, I have a lot of pilot friends. You guys need more pilots. We need more people.
22:56 Chris Roy
Oh yeah! We do. Hey, the pilots, and pilots will be happy to know I've already got all 3,500 airports in the US-Geo referenced in there, so all they have to do is punch in the airport code and the system will map it for them so.
23:08 Lorien Clemens
Beautiful. Love it. Well, thank you so much for being on the show today Chris. It's always a pleasure, and very grateful for everything that you are doing to help us save pets, and help those fosters and rescues and shelters for sure.
23:21 Chris Roy
Thanks Lorien I enjoyed it.
23:22 Lorien Clemens
Absolutely, and if any of you are interested in learning about more about Chris, and Doobert, and what he does. Make sure you head over to the website. Doobert.com, and if you have any other topic that you want us to chat about in the pet space, please make sure to reach out with us. Social media. You can always email us to, its firstname.lastname@example.org, and we're happy to chat about whatever you suggest. So I'm Lorien Clemens. This has been Pet Lover Geek powered by PetHub, and until next time, give those fur kids a kiss from us, and have a great day.