Pinky is seeking friends.
Shep likes to goof around with his dad.
And Pumpkin just updated his profile photo.
All three are pets looking to connect with like-minded furry friends through a new social network site, PuppyPals.org.
The website is the brainchild of lifelong animal lover and Thonotosassa resident Vikki Thom who was seeking a way to connect with other pet lovers, share tips and recommendations and establish a pet-sitting exchange.
"I've had dogs all my life," said Thom, who was adopted from China in the 1960s when foreign adoptions were a rarity. "I was made fun of a lot and I just found that dogs gave me the unconditional love I craved."
An underground utility contractor by profession, Thom said her work suffered with the flagging economy.
"And I had to find a way to re-invent myself," she said. "I know firsthand how difficult it is to maintain a pet's health and welfare in this economy. So I thought I'd start a website where pet owners can exchange information on places to get inexpensive vaccinations, the best value in pet foods and establish a network so pet owners can exchange pet-sitting services instead of having to board their dogs when they're away."
She also has another goal.
"I'd like to find a way to get older pets matched with senior citizens and solicit the help of Scout troops and other youth groups to help the seniors walk their pets."
After launching her website, Thom is now in the process of signing up users. Eventually, she hopes to feature advertising on the site.
"I'm slowly getting the word out," said Thom, who recently advertised in a FishHawk Ranch flier. "There's so much information that we, as pet owners, could be sharing to help manage our pets' well-being."
In addition to generating conversations among pet owners, the site also contains a list of local dog parks, animal shelters in the area, free classified ads and a shopping mall for small business owners selling pet-related items, such as doggie clothing and homemade treats, plus a gallery of cute and funny pet photos and videos posted by owners.
"I'm hoping it will become a place where pet owners can help each other and exchange ideas, like remedies for dogs with skin problems, advice on traveling with your pet and where to find a good obedience program.
"I really think there is a need out there for pet owners to connect," she said. "The site is really a vehicle for ensuring that people have the information and help they need to maintain their pets."
She said that's especially important in this economy where pet owners are having to give up their pets due to the cost of annual shots, medical care, pet food, grooming and boarding.
"There's really no support network out there. No one should have to give up a beloved pet because it's too expensive to care for it," she said. "Pets are beneficial to everybody's health. They provide daily exercise and socialization for all."
Thom is welcoming other ideas for the website. She can be contacted at 813-401-3135.