You see an injured, helpless dog on the road, what do you do? You either try figure the nearest vet you can take him to or post in one of the Groups on Facebook, replies to which don’t pop up soon. Enough time wasted and you are still waiting for your call to get through to an NGO or faintly hoping for some volunteer living nearby to turn up.
All of us, the animal lovers, have been there.
How amazingly insensitive are a large sum of Indian citizens who still think it’s okay for an animal to die in front of their eyes.
And then there are those who commit to the cause and spend their entire lives for the innocent voiceless souls who really not know why they deserve to be dumped, killed, kicked and abused anyway.
Good news remains that the evil cannot exist in isolation. Somewhere, there is goodness that will prevail. Even, if it has to through a mobile app.
Arun Budakoti and Aneesha Chhikara have come to the rescue of animals and their lovers in need with a first-of-its-kind app that helps and supports animal welfare work in real time in India.
Although, Arun & Aneesha have spent 15 years in IT/Sales world, their dedication towards animals clocks to about two decades which has brought them together to launch ‘Resq Rangers’.
“Every day we face the problem of reaching out to the right people and organizing help for the animals in crisis. The most common issue people deal with is getting animal ambulance to attend to a case. Finding the nearest available animal ambulance and closest volunteer, at times is one of the biggest challenge despite when animal loving people are willing to spend money for a quality and time bound service”, says Arun.
Therefore, the two life-long animal volunteers came together to solve the problem once and for all.
“We wanted to make it easier for people to find help and call for service level assurance (SLA) bound services. ResQ Rangers idea came up when we thought about how technology can help solve this problem and can automatically connect people with other fellow animal lovers and also give location based services with just a click-and call option.”
This is how it functions. An animal lover spots an animal in distress, he/she can instantly take a picture and post it with an appropriate description. A case id is associated with the incident that helps in tracking the incident. This message appears in news feed of all the users who have chosen to help actively in that particular location. A notification is pushed to the users and animal NGOs within 5-km radius of the incident. Those within that area get tagged automatically and are informed the location with distance and direction. Volunteers taking up the task can update news feed with the action being taken for better collaboration.
“The services sections in the app include a database of NGOs, Vets, Grooming centers as well”, informs Arun.
So, in all understanding, it can be called the go-to virtual place for all volunteers working for animal welfare. Aneesha adds, “There’s also a feature ‘ResQ Now’ that shows a feed of animal transport services being operated by NGOs. We are coming soon with a contribute icon that will allow users to pledge for animal welfare and the money will go to NGOs/ Vets supporting the cause.”
Features like corporate contribution and sponsorship are also being worked upon. Soon the app will be available for IOS users while wallet and vet on wheels integration is also on the cards.
However easy it may sound, bringing together the ecosystem on one platform was a task in itself and continues to be so. But, Arun & Aneesha are undeterred.
“Technology adoption by the field staff of NGOs is a challenge and bringing the people together in a field where emotional quotient is very high is also a challenge but with every passing day we are making progress. We have been bootstrapping the project so far with little help from few friends”, shares Aneesha.
The app has received a neat response so far. It has registered 3000 downloads and has over 40 NGOs in the database plus a Paid Animal Transport services partner. The co-founders also claim to have over 400 cases reported and resolved as well.
Statistics say that India has 40-50 million street animals and over 10 million pet owners while animal lovers in the country are more than 40 million. The market size for animal care and welfare is estimated to be over $965 mn with a projected YOY growth in double digits in the next 5 years.
And that, according to Arun & Aneesha, also makes it for a good business proposition.
“We have four levers of revenue generation for ResQ Rangers. Out of which in phase 1, the Animal transport services is the first lever. We intend to have advertisements on our app and also turn it into an e-commerce platform eventually.”
“India is the fastest growing pet industry globally. We are at a point where the momentum of growth of pet lovers is fastest. Looks like a tipping point and the industry is all set to boom. We have lot more pet lovers now than ever before and they are growing”, opines Rana Atheya, Co-Founder & CEO, dogspot.in, who recently raised an undisclosed amount from Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus, Tata Sons.
Going further, the volunteer duo is also hopeful of meaningful tie-ups with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and other popular animal welfare organizations such as Friendicoes to become an authentic source of information and help across India.
“We want to add all 10,000 active NGOs along with their network of volunteers on ResQ rangers”, affirms Arun.
The app has also been well received in terms of its design and usability.
“I have used the app. It works very well and is effective”, shares Atheya.
But shouldn’t have an app of this kind broken into the animal welfare scene in India much before?
“It is never too late for a good cause”, replies Aneesha.
An answer the saviours of four-legged innocent babies can never disagree with.