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Closeup of a Black Dog

New Friend Shelter

Reducing the stigma of shelter pets through design

The Problem


Shelter pets have a stigma that something is wrong with them that landed them in the shelter. People don't want the animals to be destroyed but they also don't want to take the risk of adopting an unsuitable pet.

New Friend is a shelter that rescues cats and dogs so they can have a second chance. New Friend believes that when a pet and a person are well matched, it creates a long-lasting bond that enriches both of their lives.  

Uncertainty about the pet and how to reduce it in the shelter pet adoption process was the focus of this project.


Design services that New Friend Shelter can implement to fulfill its mission to match a pet and person for long-term enjoyment.

The Solution


Create events for prospective pet parents to meet their new friends to reduce uncertainty in possible pet matches. Design a pet profile page with additional information about the pet.

An example of an event is the Lease and Harness Party.  The client fills out a survey to get matched to a dog and they spend the afternoon getting to know each other in a local park.  Through this interaction, the client can feel more confident if the dog would or would not make a good addition to their life.  

Service Blueprint
Leash and Harness Event

Service Blueprint for Lease and Harness Event  New Friend


Service Designer which included research, ideation, service design, paper and digital wireframing, low and high-fidelity prototyping for mobile and web, conducting usability tests, and iterating on designs.



The research highlighted that uncertainty of prospective pets’ behavior (38%), compatibility & personality (30%), and health (21%) are the top concerns in pet adoption. People had different expectations for their prospective pet with the majority theme providing companionship in varying ways.

Over 60% of the respondents said they have an interest in hiking and/or walking.

A remote web survey was conducted with 24 participants ages 18 to 64 to determine what they want out of a pet relationship, their lifestyle activities, and their concerns with shelter pet adoption.




The focus of the project was to reduce uncertainty in the pet adoption process through the following how might we statements:

  • How might we reduce uncertainty by utilizing the website/app? (Digital)

  • How might we further reduce uncertainty for prospective pet parents? (Services)

New Friend Shelter Ideation

Ideation Affinity Diagram

The affinity diagram was created from a brainwriting session to come up with possible ways to solve the user pain points of personality and behavior, discovered during the research phase.



The respondents' concerns were reviewed and sorted by “Can be digital” and “Determined by the prospective pet parent”.


Design focused on creating interactions and activities that the prospective pet parent and pets can engage in together to resolve the compatibility pain point.

The items that “Can be digital” were incorporated into the pet's profile page and icons were created.  The research helped guide what additional icons to include in the design 


Pet profile pages were created to help prospective pet parents narrow down the selection by listing information about the pet.

Icons with descriptions were created to quickly answer specific concerns of prospective pet parents.

  • Pet Preferences

  • Medical information


Wireframe Flow (mobile)

Wireframe mobile flow of New Friend shelter to find and schedule a pet to visit


In-person events were designed to give prospective pet parents the opportunity to spend time with the pets to determine compatibility. A variety of events were created including in-shelter events to offsite events.


Offsite events give prospective pet parents a hassle-free opportunity to experience lifestyle activities with the dogs.

Prospective pet parents can focus on the compatibility of lifestyle during“Hike with New Friend”. New Friend will transport the dogs to and from the event so the Client doesn’t feel stressed getting the dog to a hiking location or pressured to adopt the dog.

Over 60% of the survey respondents have an interest in hiking and walking.

Cats and Cocktails Product Card.png

Cats and Cocktails is a weekly drop-in event that is part of Wind Down Wednesdays. These events were created to give people a way to interact with animals and destress midweek.  This is another way for prospective pet parents to evaluate compatibility.

Service Blueprint

Future State Service Blueprint

  • What is the plan for walk-up customers in the park?

  • What to plan if the pet matching survey is not filled out?

  • Should pet matches be shown before the event?

The service blueprint revealed the following questions

Key Take Aways


Uncertainty about prospective pets was an obstacle to people adopting pets. This project created direct unique ways for users to interact with the pet to determine personality matches and created indirect methods by creating rating icons that were posted on the pet's profile page.

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