Social media

How Italian social network Bepuppy can help Hong Kong pet lovers adopt animals

Platform links animal shelters with local communities and seeks to solve rising numbers of abandoned pets

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 October, 2017, 1:00pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 October, 2017, 1:19pm

A popular Italy-based social network will provide a platform for pet lovers in Hong Kong to adopt rescued animals as part of a bid to reduce the city’s increasing number of abandoned pets.

Marco Martinenghi, founder of Bepuppy, said his network was dedicated to families looking for a pet. It is similar to social media like Facebook and Instagram, but designed to facilitate pet adoptions and link up animal welfare organisations with local communities.

“This is intended to not only be a place where people can share experiences and fun with friends but also to solve all needs coming from living with pets,” Martinenghi said.

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“It aims to improve the lives of our pets and bring together animal lovers from all over the world.”

He stressed that the network did not only target dogs and cats but also other animals such as rabbits, hamsters and horses.

Martinenghi said a new system would soon be installed to help non-profit organisations find adopters for abandoned animals. Dog and cat shelters can subscribe for free to Bepuppy and register their animals on the website, while Bepuppy users who want to adopt animals can get in touch directly with these organisations.

Social media has had an amazing impact on attitudes towards animals
Sheila McClelland, animal protection advocate

In Hong Kong, thousands of pets are abandoned each year. Some of them end up with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department or charity Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, awaiting adoptions.

Animals who are not able to find a new home may be euthanised within days.

“We do hope Bepuppy can help Hong Kong and other big cities to properly deal with the problem of abandoned pets, restore a sense of respect for these animals and make people consider them as part of our lives,” Martinenghi said.

The website’s geolocation function, which tracks locations of users in real-time, can also alert pet owners when they are close to an area identified as potentially dangerous for animals, such as where there are poisoned baits.

Sheila McClelland, the founder and chairwoman of Lifelong Animal Protection Charity in Hong Kong, said she would use the network to communicate with local animal lovers, although this was the first time she had heard of Bepuppy.

“Social media has had an amazing impact on attitudes towards animals and it has even changed perceptions of what is acceptable behaviour,” she said. “Animal stories that would have been considered trivial years ago have now touched hearts and increased awareness of the joy of sharing your life with animal companions.

“It has also highlighted what is responsible care and brought wide attention to many cases of neglect and abuse.”

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Martinenghi, a web developer and graphic designer, started Bepuppy four years ago after his friend’s dog got lost. “After this experience, I have decided to put my love for technology into helping animals,” he said.

Martinenghi said he had been saved by his pet dog once, and it was now time for him to save other animals.

“When I was a little boy, there was one occasion when I suddenly lost consciousness while walking on the street, probably due to low blood pressure. When I woke up, I saw my dog barking and staring at me. He was trying to alert other pedestrians,” he recalled.

“It’s probably not the most heroic story you have ever heard. But it does prove that our pets have unconditional love for us,” he said.

Bepuppy, the first Italian pet social network, was originally created to focus on the animal owners community in Italy. It recently made itself accessible to a wider audience by adding four more languages: English, French, German and Spanish.

Although the network has yet to gain traction in Asia, Martinenghi said he hoped to reach out to the Chinese community in future.