Shanghai's very own social 'petworking' site Shanghai's very own social 'petworking' site

Sit, log-in. Stay for a while. Good boy. Shanghai-based Petizens proves it’s a dog-meets-dog world
The Shanghai Petizens team shows off the online 'petworking' site they've created. Purrrrrr-fect.

Have net-nanny blockages left you itching for a new dose of vicarious living? For those not riding the proxy-pony or perhaps simply hankering for a change, here’s some rawhide to chew on. Social networking for your pet, aka, might be just what you’re looking for.

But don’t be fooled. So much more than a cutesy, fluffed up Renren or ‘must love dogs’ dating zone, it’s a pet-meets-pet world so tell your human ego ‘to sit and stay’ while your favorite household companions have their moment in the limelight.

Beyond fluff(y), literally

I can see that many families in China are pet owners for the first time, which is great.— Per Lyngemark, Petizen founder

Officially born in Shanghai in December 2008 by passionate pet lovers and ‘techsperts’ Per and Tamako Lyngemark, the Petizens online network designed for pets and their whipped humans hadn’t left the litter long before partnering with business incubator Dad-Asia one year later.

Per says: “Why Petizens? I noticed that all my friends had photos of their pets on their computer, phone or on MSN. So I thought, why not create an entire site dedicated to those little (and big) creatures we love so much! And taking the persona of you pet is much more interesting and fun than sites for people.”

Starting out with an impressive beginner brood of 4,000, current membership numbers have been breeding like bunnies adding an average of 300 new petizens per day and rapidly approaching 25,000. Now that’s one case of over-breeding not to lose sleep over.

Although Shanghai-based, this latest addition to the critter e-community stretches far beyond the mainland’s borders representing 163 member countries worldwide with user ages ranging literally from 8-80 (parental permission required for 13 and under). U.S. pet geeks top the charts as the highest users worldwide at present and include a top petizen ‘human’ with 23 pets in total (gulp) followed by the UK and the Philippines ranking highest in the East.

Although China isn’t in the top three yet, it’s well on its way. “I can see that many families in China are pet owners for the first time, which is great,” notes Per. “That said, many get cute puppies and have no idea that they grow up to become large dogs. I hope that with more exposure to people with pets, people here are able to do proper research before getting a pet.”

Serious ‘petworking'

“Petizens goes beyond basic social networking pages,” notes Vanessa Sun, Petizens' community manager. “Our intention is to make Petizens a special place to share our pets’ stories, photos and lives. But, most importantly, we want our users to have fun!”

It’s a pet-meets-pet world so tell your human ego ‘to sit and stay’ while your favorite household companions have their moment in the sunshine.

With instant access web pages, drag and drop customization and helpful instructions at every turn, your pet’s tailor-made profile including pics, videos and anecdotes could be cyber-jet-setting across oceans in just minutes.

"The site’s simple and easy to use with not too much text and good use of icons and videos,” adds Per. “With Petizens, we make it easy to show off your pets.”

Loads of applications to boost your pet’s popularity (and points) like photo rating, webpage competitions and ‘plogging,’ all earn you Petopian$ cash. The more your pets schmooze, the more they earn. Just don’t get upset if Fido’s new-found social life starts making yours look like day-old kibble.

Die-hard petizens can upgrade to (or earn via petopian$) premium memberships offering ad-free pages and a slew of additional perks.

Per offers up a petworking tip: “The best tip for new users is to see as many other users’ pages as possible. Then they’ll get a lot of fun ideas of how to make their own pages. Of course while there, they can easily vote and make friends helping them reach new levels very fast.”

Of course, it’s not just all fun and games with helpful forums allowing the human members to interact with pet lovers the world over, plus adoption/missing pet notices and a special ‘rainbow’ feature, where those who’ve lost their pets can keep their memory alive.

Stephanie Thomas is a freelance writer of all trades based in Shanghai.
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