"Diamond In The Ruff" — Meet The IT Whizz Who Built Malaysia's Leading Pet Adoption Portal
All pet owners know the absolute joy of having their very own furry friend who loves them unconditionally.
But one particular pet lover is taking his candour for animals to a whole new level of dedication.
Describing himself as a digital caveman, Andy Koh has been a predominant figure in the world of IT for more than two decades now, primarily having built and developed online infrastructures for global businesses and consumers.
Nonetheless, his life took a change (for the better!) over the past 10 years. Shifting his focus to developing solutions for issues pertaining to animal welfare, Andy works to simultaneously empower non-profit organisations with astute technological advancement.
Easy to say, however, that this change brought on a sequence of life-changing occurrences that would save thousands of lives thus far.
After an incident of chance in 2008, Koh's discovery and rescue of an injured pup in need of a home revealed a harsh reality for unhoused and abandoned pets
Detailing the subsequent events to this SAYS writer, Koh noted how he managed to find a forever home for the puppy, "I placed a four-liner newspaper classified ad (when people still read them!) and was surprised to receive 30 calls to adopt the puppy."
Thrilled by the reception, Koh started thinking of those who were in search of pets, and the lost opportunity for those he did not shortlist. Adding to the dilemma, Koh was aware that it would be costly to expect rescuers to constantly place classifieds in the newspaper. With no channels or avenues to assist him, he took matters into his own hands — and created an organisation that would become monumental in time.
"Since I was involved in developing online platforms, I decided to apply my experience to create a one-stop portal for shelters, rescuers, and animal lovers to help stray animals," Koh shared.
And just like that, PetFinder.my was born!
Passionate about the cause, Koh noted that the organisation's primary focus is to leverage technology and subsequently save lives around the nation — of both humans and animals.
"Our current emphasis is on animal welfare, as we find that it is an effective means to unite our audience, regardless of social status, race, age, gender, and culture."
Operating purely as an online platform, Koh noted how the portal has provided forever homes for over 61,000 pets since its inception
Detailing how the site operates, Koh elaborated, "The animals are fostered at their respective rescuers' homes or animal shelters, and they list their pets for adoption on our platform."
A typical day at PetFinder.my includes hammering away at the keyboard to find every pet a home. Giving praise where it's due, Koh expressed how working hours may stretch into late into the night if real-time coordination is required with key team members who are based overseas.
At present day, there are more than 22,000 pets (ranging from dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, and more) that are up for adoption.
Here are some of the adorable faces that are currently available for you to take home:
Each pet's profile has descriptions of their personal details, including all their physical traits (size and colour), their location, their adoption fee, and even information on the shots they have already received (vaccination, spayed, and deworming). The profiles also have additional photos of the animals, so you can see each pet clearly.
Browse through all the pet selections here, and remember that every animal deserves a happy home. Here's an example as to what each profile looks like:
Breaking barriers and closing the gap to make pet adoption more accessible, some of PetFinder.my's biggest feats include creating an app dedicated to animal welfare
Named after their website, users will be able to explore the exact same options available on PetFinder.my when using the app.
Beyond using the app to adopt pets, users can also report lost pets and receive notifications of animals lost within your neighbourhood to help reunite them with their owners. If you need additional assistance, you may also search and locate nearby vet clinics and pet stores, all while staying up to date on the latest news articles from leading pet NGOs.
The creators also prioritise new pet owners, with guides provided on how to rescue and care for your new pet.
This app is available on Google Play and App Store for Android and iPhone users respectively. Click here to download the app or to find out more details.
Beyond creating the PetFinder.my app, Koh expanded his animal welfare efforts to an additional organisation called KindMeal.my.
Here, the team collaborates with restaurants to encourage meat-free lifestyles that benefit animals and the environment.
"If they are empowered with the right tools and opportunities, their contributions can be wide and impactful"
Embellishing on the countless heartwarming testimonials from adoptive parents, Koh shared with SAYS a couple of stories that are near and dear to his heart, exemplifying his personal belief, "This is a testament that there are compassionate people in society."
An adopter who goes by the name Alex, shared his experience after adopting his dog Milo, "Living with Milo has been nothing but happiness! [He] is super happy, leaping at our friends when he sees them. It [was] definitely the right choice to adopt him!"
Another pet parent who goes by Vanessa, explained her life after adopting three-year-old Ball Ball, "He is very happy to see me every morning when I wake up and return home from work. I encourage everyone to adopt, don't buy!"
Nonetheless, Koh's journey has not been without its own challenges, as COVID-19 saw a significant reduction in corporate sponsors and donors
"The primary challenge for us would be fundraising. Not just funds for operations, but to improve, innovate, and expand our technological infrastructure."
Through it all, Koh also credited the challenging journey as part of the satisfaction that came with impacting the lives around them. Citing a particular inspiration, Koh had the opportunity to meet with world renowned conservationist and ethologist, Dr Jane Goodall. He said, "Her words of wisdom and encouragement to me serves as a strong driving force."
Looking to the future, Koh was candid on how the rakyat can help PetFinder.my continue their monumental efforts: Spread the word!
"We welcome the rakyat's contribution and participation in any form, be it using our platforms to help animals, spreading the word on social media, or sharing creative ideas with us."
Alternatively, the rakyat can also support PetFinder through purchasing products on Shopee. By purchasing any product from any category on Shopee, users will only need to ensure their links are accurately tracked to PetFinder, and in return, they will receive a contribution from the total you paid. For a full rundown on the rules, click here.
Spreading love every step of the way, Koh left SAYS with a brief message that sums up how special his work truly is:
All this month, SAYS will be featuring inspiring stories of extraordinary Malaysian changemakers in collaboration with Wiki Impact
Wiki Impact is an online platform dedicated to the impact industry. They share stories and data on issues that matter, highlighting impact-driven organisations and changemakers on the ground. Categories include poverty alleviation, social justice, gender equality, healthcare and education for all, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, impact influencers, and more!
Find out more here.