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More than 100,000 animals are sent to shelters each year, and this statistic weighs heavily on Sasha Gusain’s heart. After experiencing her own roadblocks with adopting a pet, Sasha set out to create a platform giving animals the second chance they deserve and connecting Aussies with their local animal shelters.

A self-confessed crazy dog and cat lover, Sasha started Waldo’s Friends in late 2017 to drive awareness about the animal rescue and adoption ecosystem.

“We started looking for a dog in 2013 but we were living in a rental flat with strict no-pet rules. So, in 2016, we decided to move out to get a dog,” Sasha says.

“We visited shelters in our area and the websites of the ones we couldn't get to. The online process was slow as most shelters don't have well-maintained websites and end up using Facebook or Instagram instead. Their responses might be delayed or go unanswered because they have limited support and funds or are run by volunteers who already struggle with overflowing kennels, rehabilitating rescues and adoption requests.”

Sasha eventually found her rescue puppy Waldo through a Facebook group run by a shelter in Mt Isa, Queensland. While the entire process ended in success, this experience inspired her to put her professional skills in SEO and tech start-ups to good use and create a platform aimed at improving the pet adoption process.

“Animals don’t have a voice, so it’s up to us to stand up for them and this is something that’s really close to my heart,” Sasha said.

“My goal is also for shelters, owners and their pets to succeed together, so that the animals can find their forever homes faster. And I believe that technology can play an important role here, alongside proper resources, education and training.”

On Waldo’s Friends, shelters and potential pet parents can access a shelter finder, pet finder, pet library, how-to guides, inspirational rescue stories and an online shop dedicated to fundraising.

Juggling full-time work alongside Waldo’s Friends, Sasha has put in endless hours and weekends to get Waldo’s Friends to where it is today. Her plans for Waldo’s Friends don’t stop there as she plans to incorporate wildlife rescue, pet trainers and better fundraising methods to assist shelters and the work that they do.

To list animal rescues from your shelter or search for a pet to join your family, visit waldosfriends.org for more information.

Photo: Jametiene Reskp/Unsplash

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