A NEW interactive app, launched by Sunshine Coast parents, aims to reduce the numbers of unwanted pets that find their way into animal shelters when the care functions outweigh the cute factor.
The 21-day PrePet Challenge app simulates a real-life cat or dog and what it takes to keep them happy and healthy.
The animated app puts potential owners through their pet paces – they must feed, walk, play with, talk to and also do the unpleasant tasks, like cleaning up after their animal. They do this by walking with and talkiing to their mobile device, tilting and shaking it, as well as ‘throwing’ a ball off screen and ‘flicking’ off poo… which, to their delight, explodes.
If users are falling behind in the PrePet Challenge, they are able to treat their possible fur baby to make it up to them – but only to an extent. Just like a real-life pet, success is based not just on happiness but also healthiness.
At the end of the 21-day PrePet Challenge, children get a personalised certificate of Pet-Worthiness – or not.
PrePet was the brainchild of a Sunshine Coast Dad who grew up in the country – and, in fact, wanted to stop his children asking for a pet.
“The girls were going on and on about getting a horse actually, but they’ve got no idea what it takes to look after one,” Jamie Johnstone says. “I knew I’d end up being the one going out there at the crack of dawn, so I chatted to my mate Daniel McKinnon, who runs AppFactory, and we dreamed up a life-like pet test. “My plan was to shut the horse idea down. They’ve qualified for a new dog, for now, so that buys me some time."
Families set the difficulty of the 21-day PrePet Challenge – in other words, the level of care and responsibility required to qualify for a new ‘BFF or Best Furry Friend’. This also allows for the higher care some breeds of pet require.
The specific pet-care lessons and phone actions children are required to undertake through the 21 days include:
The potential pet owner will be reminded when their cat or dog needs this care via a bark or meow.
PrePet encourages families to adopt rescue pets. The RSPCA reports it takes in 130,000 unwanted animals every year, with February and March being particularly busy. There are 900-1000 a year taken in by the Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge.
Despite this, 52% of Australians would like a new pet , says a report from Animal Medicines Australia. This intention is strongest among people who do not currently have a pet and so may not know the care requirements.
The PrePet app launches on Thursday, November 30, in time to teach/test kids before Christmas. The app is $4.49 (with a 24-hour free trial) and available for iOS and Android phones and mobile devices.