Northeast Tarrant

Keller teens develop dating-app-inspired campaign to help shelter pets

Blue, a 2-year-old border collie mix with striking blue eyes, romps in the exercise yard of the Keller Regional Adoption Center unaware that he is well on his way to a few minutes of fame.

Keller High senior Andrew Nelson shoots video of the dog, whose whole body vibrates with good-natured spunk during a game of fetch with KHS junior McKenna Hixon. The students discover that the playful pup understands the command "sit" as he waits for the ball to fly through the air another time.

Nelson will edit the video, add captions and upbeat music before uploading it to @HSNTinderKeller on one of four social media platforms.

Nelson, 18, has a marketing internship at the pet adoption center, which is run by the Humane Society of North Texas. He observed that many animals had long waits for adoption or were returned because people didn't understand the pet's personality.

"I wanted to find a better, more efficient way to match animals with people," Nelson said.

Nelson and Hixon, another marketing student, decided to develop a social media campaign to help pets find good homes. Several months ago, they started @HSNTinderKeller on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to show videos of pets that highlight their personalities, along with photos and other information about adoptions at the Keller animal shelter.

Based on the popular dating app, Tinder, their social media campaign encourages folks to begin a new relationship with a pet that needs a good home.

Nelson said they have some students at the Keller Center for Advanced Learning working on an application for mobile devices with a survey that will help people find the best pet for their lifestyle and interests.

Hixon said, "We tried to emulate the dating app, like what are your favorite things to do on a weekend or how active are you. Long term, you want a dog that will keep up. Also if you have room for a bigger dog."

Chelsey Peters, manager of the Keller Regional Adoption Center said she appreciates the students' efforts on behalf of the pets in the shelter.

"We're trying to find these guys forever homes," Peters said. "Any networking we can do, any extra exposure, gets more foot traffic in here. It shows off our animals."

They've had some local celebrities featured in their videos: Keller Superintendent Rick Westfall and KHS Principal Michael Nasra.

The main stars, of course, are the animals like Blue.

Nelson and Hixon said they've received messages from peers who saw dogs on HSNTinder and went to adopt them or another animal at the shelter.

"It's one of the most rewarding things I've done," Nelson said.