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Friday October 24th 2014

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Behold, the Power of Fruff

By Sarah McCartan

No one wants to think about, much less talk about, the possibility of their pet getting lost. But since it is possible, and because it can happen to even the most dedicated of pet owners in a matter of mere seconds, it’s encouraging to know that within the local community, there are those who have stepped out to build a supportive virtual network—a network that will alert the community if your pet does manage to detach from his or her leash, and dart out of sight.

That network is called Fruff—the lost pet alert chain that is all about reuniting lost pets with their owners. Although still in the early stages of operations, this thriving online beta community and free application that was both born and developed locally, is currently being used by approximately 300 users in the surrounding area, and already growing beyond.

“Fruff is a nationwide network—but the power of Fruff is that it is community-based,” said Chris Abbott, managing partner of Abbott Apps, and one of the masterminds behind Fruff. “The more users in your area that connect through Fruff, the more powerful it becomes.”

The idea for what goes by the official name of “Fruff” came about when Chris’ uncle, Terry Abbott, owner of local bar the Wisteria, lost his dog Monty, who sneakily made his way out of the backyard and went missing. Like most owners who lose a pet, Abbott initially was stricken with panic, then immediately went on the hunt.

Thankfully, this particular story has a happy ending. One that inspired Terry along with Chris, to develop a free software product to help reunite lost pets with their owners. And so, after tireless collaboration and fully-involved efforts, 14 months later, with the help of local developers at Hail Studio, Fruff was born.

How it Works

“We store your contact information and your pet’s information; and in the event your pet becomes lost, we create an alert and send it out across our network and other social media,” explained Chris Abbott. “We even send you a lost pet flyer with all of this information on it, so you can spend less time in Photoshop and more time looking for your pet.”

Fruff utilizes what Abbott describes as a “sophisticated proximity system”—one that notifies all Fruff users within the area where your pet was lost.

FruffTAGS

Although Fruff exists as a virtual pet community, there is a key, visible component that can prove to be vital in reuniting pets with their owners—FruffTAGs.

“FruffTAGs are an added layer of protection that we offer as an upgrade,” said Abbott.

This tag has a unique six-digit number that can either be scanned by a QR code reader or entered manually at fruff.com, which immediately takes you to the corresponding pet’s profile. Each profile contains the pet’s information, including name and medical details, plus the owner’s contact information that is readily available to anyone who might find your pet.

Currently, there are two types of FruffTAGS. Plastic sample tags for promotional purposes are available locally at the Spotted Dog, located on Palafox Street in downtown Pensacola. These plastic tags last a couple of months. Then there are the more durable aluminum tags with a longer shelf life.

“The aluminum FruffTAGs are available for purchase through our website and our mobile app for $14.99 and will last around one year,” said Abbott.

As an added bonus, each purchase of an aluminum tag earns you a freebie sample FruffTAG to pass along to a friend.

Abbott is clear to distinguish that FruffTAGS, and the network as a whole, are not intended to be substitutes for anyone interested in microchipping their pets—but rather a complementary, more visible tracking system.

In case you are less familiar with microchipping, this simple procedure administered by many veterinarians and shelters inserts a radio-frequency identification (RFID) implant just below your pet’s skin, to serve as a permanent identification tool.

“We encourage using both a microchip and a FruffTAG,” said Abbott. “In fact, we are currently working on an update that will allow users to store their pet’s microchip RFID number within their Fruff account, adding yet another layer of protection.”

The Ever-expanding Network

Not only is Fruff a lost pet alert system, it’s a means of connecting area pet owners and enthusiasts with one another. Those who don’t have pets of their own are strongly encouraged to sign up, and get involved.

“It’s a community, and we are here to help each other out,” said Abbott. “With Fruff, each user becomes an important link in an ever-expanding safety net and we can use all the help we can get. All you have to do is care about a lost pet being found.”

Signing up for Fruff is as simple as going to fruff.com, or downloading the application and clicking on “Create an Account.” Much like a Social Media platform, Fruff allows users to “friend” other users, to ensure that those connected are notified accordingly when a pet goes missing.

Additional Fruff features include an interactive map that Abbott has plans of gradually building upon, plotting everything from vets and kennels, to locations of dog parks. Although a bit trickier to quantify, over time Abbott looks to even include things like pet-friendly establishments.

While Fruff remains in its beta testing phase, Abbott welcomes and encourages user response via the feedback tab on the Fruff website and app.

“You always think you’ve thought of everything—and then there’s something else,” said Abbott.

The official Fruff launch will take place at this year’s Barktoberfest event, held in Seville Square on October 5. Fruff will have a booth set up where Abbott will be offering tutorials showcasing how Fruff Works, plus giveaways including chew toys, and sample FruffTAGs. Still, it’s best to go ahead and get on board now so you can brag later when every dog and cat in town is sporting a FruffTAG.

JOIN THE FRUFF COMMUNITY

The mobile application is currently available for download for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch on the App Store at itunes.com/fruff. Expansion to Android remains in the works.

To learn more and sign up, visit fruff.com.

5 Great Reasons to Use Fruff
1. LOW COST
The Fruff network remains totally free. And the priceless reinforcement that a FruffTAG provides to you and your pet is worth the small cost. The FruffTAG pays for itself the moment you sign up and place the tag on your pet’s collar.
2. LOW HASSLE
Fruff makes it quick and easy to sign up and get started. Simply go to fruff.com or download the mobile application via the iTunes store. Or even better—do both! That way you can take Fruff with you wherever you go.
3. PAY IT FORWARD
Fruff lets you pay it forward—in pet fashion. Fruff gives you the opportunity to perform the good deed that is helping reunite a scared pet with grateful owners. It doesn’t get much more honorable than that.
4. PEACE OF MIND
Fruff offers you added peace of mind that there’s a supportive community out there if you ever were to lose your own pet. Now you, and your pet, can curl up together at night and go to sleep feeling even more secure.
5. SOCIAL CONNECTIVITY
Fruff is a relationship building tool between pet owners and pet lovers. Not to mention the interactive map allows you to discover new pet-friendly go-tos in your neighborhood that you might not have realized were in existence.