Issaquah-based PetHub provides animal lovers extra security
By KEVIN ENDEJAN
Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor
August 9, 2012 · Updated 2:14 PM
With the economy spiraling downward and a significant raise on the table, Tom Arnold took a gamble few would consider.
“I’ve been really lucky,” said the Issaquah resident, noting his recent career move was inspired while reflecting on his mother’s kindness. “She’s constantly doing all this volunteer stuff and it really started hitting me that I do nothing to give back.”
Three years ago, Arnold, who was in his early 40s, walked away from a big-money promotion doing analytics at Microsoft to start PetHub — an Internet-based company that uses Quick Response Codes, or QR Codes, to quickly and safely return lost pets to their owners.
“I thought to myself, I need to do find something I’m passionate about and marry them,” he said. “Software is what I’m doing and animals are what I care about.”
After a series of trials, tribulations and testing, Arnold officially launched PetHub.com in September 2011.
In less than a year of operation, the nine-person company, located in a small house on Issaquah’s Front Street, has more than 30,000 pets around the nation registered on its website, has gained multiple industry awards and will soon be the official pet tag of the 2012 Hero Dog Awards — an event broadcast live, Oct. 6, on the Hallmark Channel.
Arnold attributes PetHub’s quick success to his product’s ease of use.
All pet tags or collars feature visible QR Codes that are linked to online pet profiles. When someone uses their smartphone to scan the code, they are immediately linked to the PetHub website. Good samaritans can view the pet’s profile, which can include phone numbers, addresses, shot records, dietary needs, insurance information and much more. Information depends on what the pet owner wants displayed. For those without smartphones, there is an 1-800 number on the tags that can link the caller to the owner through a third party.
“A lot of times that will happen where people won’t even know their pet’s missing before they get the call from our pet center or get the email from the person who found them,” said Lorien Clemens, who works in consumer outreach.
PetHub already boasts hundreds of success stories, like those of Chewy the dog from Utah. A double escapee, Chewy most recently worked his way under a fence and was hit by a car. The man who hit Chewy scanned the code and called the toll free number on the tag. The owner was contacted within minutes and Chewy was immediately taken to the animal hospital where he was treated for broken leg.
As a bonus, the owner had PetHub’s gold service, which includes insurance. A potential $3,000 bill was reduced to a $50 premium.
Arnold admits his tags aren’t a substitute for microchips, but he said they provide an extra peace of mind. When animals are microchipped, Arnold said, many people forget to update their addresses, or even register the devices.
“It’s staggering that nearly four million animals are put to death because they can’t find the original owners,” Arnold said. “If we can get them home before it’s necessary to get them into a shelter … then we want to help.”
PetHub offers three different levels of service, the first of which falls under the “free-mium” model. The bronze package, which is used by 67 percent of subscribers, doesn’t cost anything and includes data storage, ability to link to the pet tag and access to 800 number service.
The silver package includes all the bronze services, but also sends an email notification to owners when a profile is viewed, provides GPS information when a pet tag is scanned and sends out a pet version of an Amber Alert to all nearby shelters. That costs $39 a year for an entire household of pets.
The gold package includes all the features of the other two, plus pet insurance for $49 a year.
While his new endeavor might not be as lucrative as what he might have experienced at Microsoft, Arnold hasn’t doubted his decision for a second.
“You go through this life one time, as far as I know,” he said. “It would be nice to feel like I’m making a difference.”
Did you know?
• About 6 million to 8 million dogs and cats are sent to shelters annually. About 3 million to 4 million are euthanized.
• About 3 million to 4 million are adopted.
• Eighteen percent of dogs are returned to their owners and 2-5 percent of cats.
– American Humane Society
Contact Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor Kevin Endejan at email@example.com or 425-391-0363, ext. 5054.