Fos­ter Kind­ness—Fos­ter a Cat!

Hav­ing al­ready rev­o­lu­tion­ized res­cue pet adop­tion, Petfinder.com founder Betsy Banks Saul turns her at­ten­tion to fos­ter pets with the goal of sav­ing mil­lions more an­i­mals through fos­ter­ing. And you can help!

Modern Cat - - Contents - BY TRACEY TONG

Hav­ing al­ready rev­o­lu­tion­ized res­cue pet adop­tion, Petfinder.com founder Betsy Banks Saul turns her at­ten­tion to fos­ter pets with the goal of sav­ing mil­lions more an­i­mals through fos­ter­ing. And you can help!

If a home­less an­i­mal had a best friend, it would prob­a­bly look a lot like Betsy Banks Saul. Betsy has saved tens of mil­lions of pets’ lives—yes, you read that right—through the ground-break­ing res­cue web­site she founded, Petfinder.com. The site al­lows would-be adopters to search out adopt­able pets in their area from groups and shel­ters across North Amer­ica. Along the way, she changed both pub­lic per­cep­tion of res­cue an­i­mals and how peo­ple adopt pets. Now she aims to do the same for fos­ter an­i­mals. It is not hy­per­bole to say Petfinder rev­o­lu­tion­ized pet adop­tion. The idea for the site came to Betsy and her then-hus­band, Jared Saul, in De­cem­ber 1995 as they dis­cussed what the In­ter­net could do to help shel­ter an­i­mals. One month later, Petfinder was up and run­ning. It was hard work, with Betsy and Jared per­son­ally con­tact­ing groups and en­ter­ing the adopt­able pets, but for the first time, there was one data­base for adopt­able an­i­mals in need of a home. Even­tu­ally, Betsy or­ga­nized an un­prece­dented 14,000 shel­ters and res­cue groups—nearly ev­ery or­ga­ni­za­tion across North Amer­ica—so their adopt­able pets were search­able through one place. “Ev­ery­body played in one sand­box,” says the Mis­souri na­tive proudly. And it worked: in the last 20 years the num­ber of an­i­mals eu­th­a­nized an­nu­ally has dropped from a shock­ing 20 mil­lion an­i­mals to 2.7 mil­lion, a big step in the right di­rec­tion. Want­ing Petfinder to have an in­ter­na­tional reach, Betsy sold the web­site to Dis­cov­ery Com­mu­ni­ca­tions in 2006 for $35 mil­lion— that’s the kind of pro­file and traf­fic the site sees—and re­mained in­volved un­til Nes­tle Pu­rina bought the site in 2013. But af­ter leav­ing the com­pany, “some­thing kept me up in the mid­dle of the night,” Betsy says. “I felt like I left some un­fin­ished busi­ness on the ta­ble. We had done great things for adopt­able an­i­mals— Petfinder was rockin’ and rollin’—but there were all these pets be­ing left be­hind.” An­i­mals were be­ing eu­th­a­nized be­cause the shel­ters weren’t adopt­ing them out quickly enough, or be­cause

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