Animal rescue at your fingertips. Access shelters anywhere to find animals in need.
Animal Shelters and Pet Adopters
My Role
Product owner, user research, experience design
Tools Used
Figma, Miro
3 months


How can more animals be rescued efficiently during a pandemic?

The pandemic caused a sharp decline in spaying and neutering, first with the initial lockdowns and then with shelter overcrowding, lagging pet adoption rates, and a nationwide shortage of veterinarians, researchers said.
The rise in subsidized spay-neuter access helped drive the euthanasia of shelter pets in the United States from an estimated 13.5 million in 1973 to 1.5 million in 2019... Shelters are in crisis mode with overcrowding.
- Lead researcher Dr. Simone Guerios,
a clinical assistant professor of shelter medicine University of Florida

Project Goals


Create an application for adopters to review animals for rescue

I aimed to create a streamlined app design to deliver an inviting experience of local animal adoption for mobile devices.


Encourage responsible animal rescue with efficiency and ease

I strived to produce elegant UX/UI solutions that enable animal adoption to be conducted rapidly and responsibly.

Competitive analysis

The competition focuses on web platforms for adoption

I analyzed 3 of the most popular adoption websites and mobile applications surrounding the goal of socially-distanced adoption. I found that none of them support communication with shelters. These apps prioritize supporting shelter management or animal profiles sharing. This leaves a gap for a mobile-first application focused on efficient animal discovery and adoption/visitation inquiry that requires minimal effort by shelters.

Preliminary Research

I organized project planning with a SWOT analysis

I considered the process of animal adoption and how technology has been instituted to aid that process. I investigated a large number of shelter websites and found that some have struggle to deploy and maintain online websites while others feature fantastic online services.

Opportunities of Online Adoption

Here are a few of the major opportunities that were discovered through research into animal adoption and the current climate of related online services. The opportunities uncovered were in an effort to broaden animal shelter accessibility and adopter awareness.

Individualized Adoption

With personalized profiles, adopters and shelters can provide adoption criteria and preferences. Animal profiles can be discovered by adoptees in a way that sorts animals based on preference and adoption criteria.

Virtual Contact

Virtual interaction can provide adoptees a remote method of interaction with pets to get a sense of the animals personality. Adoptees could contact shelter/foster pet caretakers to coordinate video chat to help adoptees make more informed decisions.

Direct-line of Communication

Through connecting adoptees directly to shelters and foster caretakers, the adoption process can take place entirely online, can be expedited and can allow participants to have access to pet profiles and caretakers for questions that come up.


Here are a few of the major challenges discovered through the research into animal adoption and the current climate of related online services. The opportunities uncovered were in an effort to broaden animal shelter accessibility and adopter awareness.

Social Distancing

Socially distanced pet adoption strains shelters and adopters.

Disseminated Availability

Adopters search a multitude of shelter websites to find an animal they would like to adopt; after submitting an application they find out the animal is no longer available.

Outdated Listings

Shelters work hard trying to keep up-to-date information for their animals online.  The shelters then need to review applicants for fit as they come in on a first come first serve basis.

User Research

I interviewed adopters and shelters to learn from their experiences, decisions and outcomes.

None of my interviewees used 3rd party adoption apps.

Interviews were conducted with a few pet adopters and a couple shelter managers about the adoption process and issues that came up throughout. Hearing the process from them and understanding their stories put the experience into perspective.

Research goals


Identify Issues, Values and Reveal Processes


Discover Pain Points and Needs of Adopters and Shelters


Locate Barriers and Obstacles to the adoption process


Determine willingness to Adopt an Online Platform

Adopter Questions

Shelter Questions

Adopter Insights

Theme 1: Preferences

Adopters look for animals with particular characteristics such as age or breed.

Ideal preferences that are scarcely found in shelters are competitively sought.

Many shelters are overflowing with less desirable breeds.

Theme 2: Exploration

Adopters need to revisit shelters or check others to find their ideal rescue.

Adopters may have to apply to many shelters to find available animals.

Adopters begin with expectations but may adopt based on emotional response.

Theme 3: Information

Shelters often don't have enough time to collect detailed animal information.

Some animals come with behavioral tests, bite history, medical conditions.

Detailed information often needs to be determined through visitation.

Shelter Insights

Theme: Support

Shelters vary in their capability to provide adoption services based on donations.

Some shelters can afford in-house veterinarians and behaviors specialists, others cannot.

Foster programs enable the community to ease the burden of sheltering.

Services such as foster-to-adopt and fee sponsorship enable adoption transition.

Smaller less established shelters may entirely lack online adoption platforms.


User Flow

Simple flowcharts were created to visualize and streamline the process of discovery and selection.

Adopter Flow

This flow diagram organizes the inputs, actions and decisions made by adopters throughout the process.

Shelter Flow

This flow diagram presents the process shelters take for each animal, from preparation to visitation, consultation and review with applicants.


Taking what was learned through research and interviews, I began creating wireframes for each side of online pet adoption.

Adopter Flow

Simple onboarding for adopters help them create profile with basic information and pet preferences. Discovery of pets was designed to snapshot animal info and connect adopters to the shelter in charge to coordinate visits and applications.

Shelter Flow

Shelters can create profiles to present their available animals with any available information. Adoption and visitation can be directly coordinated with prospective adopters through mobile communication.


Major Design Improvements


Information Consolidation and Moderation

  • Animal info was originally elaborate and holistic
  • Categorizing and reducing information complexity eases animal comparison and reduces strain while browsing

Externalizing the Application Process

  • Adopter profiles were designed to prepare users for the adoption process.
  • Routing adopters to formal external applications prevents users from providing the same information twice.
  • Most shelters have unique applications that cannot be auto-filled from online profiles.

Switching to a Discovery Feed

  • Originally, pets were presented individually on a best-fit basis considering adopters preferences.
  • Based on feedback, users prefer freeform browsing to see what all is available.


The Final Product

Communicate with Caretakers
Shelters and adopters can message each other directly regarding questions, visitation, and applications.  

Find the Right Fit
Adopters will discover a curated set of available animals based on their location, preferences, and requisites. Information on animals is accessible from profiles and additional details upon request.

Finding Happy Homes
Shelters are able to easily create detailed and shareable profiles showcasing anything potential owners might want to know about the available animals.

Schedule Visits Directly
Adopters are able to request animal visits directly from their profiles.

figma prototype

User Quotes

The design is simple and not intimidating, making the adoption process easy and straightforward.
Generally pleasing to look at, with a predictable layout and doesn't overcomplicate.

Style Guide

Conclusion + lessons learned

What I learned from this process

1. More in depth user testing is required at early stages
If I spent some additional time on user research and more testing at early stages, I could have had a clearer idea of designing an effective solution. Limited interviews with shelters left gaps in knowledge, that if filled would have provided clarity in more aspects of the design.

2. Focus on doing something well, rather than doing it all.
I spent a lot of time in iterations, listening to feedback to fulfill all the requirements of the entire adoption process, down to every detail that could show up in applications. I wish I had made the decision or realization earlier that reducing clutter and focusing on smaller goals would lead to a cleaner and more successful outcome.

3. Standardization doesn't mean limitation.
The initial iterations featured entirely custom designs for every element. While this enabled complete creative liberty, it caused setbacks to development and ended up reducing familiarity for users. Utilizing existing standards creates inherent structure, making the available options clearer while providing efficiency for development, iteration and documentation.

Design Values

User flow refinement
Streamlined process to identify and adopt
Information consolidation
Reduced clutter through compartmentalization and scaffolding
Cleaner and more familiar layouts
Took inspiration from basic mobile tools to leverage familiarity
Formalized standardization
Employed elements from widely accepted design kits to fit standards
Accessibility improvements
Colorblind friendly b/w design, maintained AA color contrast
User friendly interaction
Consistent size for interactive elements, accessible for touch
Focused goal of connecting adopters with shelters
Shifted focus away from applications and toward connecting parties
Reduced limitation to browsing
Enabled users to freely view available animals to avoid restriction

If you have any work inquiries or want to chat, you can contact me via email at p.teall25@gmail.com

Thank you for taking an interest in my work!