animals and want to ensure their wellbeing
How did the project come about?
Animals are an important part of the lives of the team at Descomunal, a pet-friendly agency that is always more than happy to welcome its employees’ pets in.
But it all really began when Marta and Maria got back from their holiday in Tel Aviv, filled with inspiration by what they had seen there. The city stands in stark contrast to the rest of the country, which is shackled by radical political and religious beliefs – a bubble of freedom filled with caring and compassion. The extent to which both human and animal lives were valued was a lightbulb moment for both of them. How could they bring this spirit of openness, respect and collaboration to their hometown of Faro? What could be done? From her own experience, Marta knew that a thirsty pet wasn’t always given a drink in public or private establishments. As an entrepreneur and the manager of a communication agency, Descomunal, the solution came to her immediately and she sprung into action. Gathering her team together, work began on designing a drinking bowl that had a durable exterior and was both easy to transport and washable.
And it had to look good! For an awareness-raising campaign to really take off, three factors have to come together in the right balance: aesthetics, emotion and functionality. It was in achieving this balance that we hoped to get private and public establishments alike involved. Now, at this point the aesthetics and emotion seemed to be well underway, so the facet that needed a bit more TLC was FUNCTIONALITY.
It all began with... water
We’re animal people to our core, which means that day after day we’re busy trying to find solutions to help our pets be as much of a part of our daily lives as possible. And that’s how it all began. With water. And our constant search for places and ways to give our four-legged pals a drink. But we’re not just helping our own with this project – we’re helping give every pet a drink, whether they’re furry, fluffy or even feathery.
We’re on a mission: to make water available to all animals in cities. We believe that a city, or even a private establishment, can be pet-friendly in so many ways, whether big or small. After all, to be pet-friendly is also to respect others, including those who are not pet-friendly. And so, we think it’s essential to find inclusive solutions that are friendly to everyone, but that, above all else, provide essential, vitalising hydration to those who cannot ask for it themselves.
To take our initiative public, we needed visibility and a lot of support from local authorities, associations and individuals, which we were successful in getting, helping us fund production of the drinking bowls. Our vision now is to create an International Route of Pet-Friendly water bowls by expanding our reach and working alongside a network of international entities, just like we did here.
This is where the AESTHETICS comes in, an extremely important factor when it comes to asking establishments to host a bowl. Nobody wants to feature something ugly in their business, but if it’s pretty, matches the decor and even inspires more Instagram photos and posts in the locale, we’re on to a winner.
Then comes the next step: choosing the right establishments, ones that we’re sure will take pride in their bowl, changing the water often and topping it up when necessary. In the early stages, it seemed clear that anywhere with a terrace would be perfect for a bowl, as it would be easy for them to change the water regularly, and the bowl itself would be protected from vandalism.</p >
Now, however, the choice isn’t entirely down to us, as we’re already getting applications coming in left, right and centre from those wanting to host a water bowl, from pet-friendly hotel groups to chains of supermarkets. All we do then is recommend some best practices and let experience do the rest. We’ve also featured a form on our website where users can report bowls that are unusable or not being upkept, so that we can step in to remedy the situation.
An important step we took was supplying the bowls at cost price, while ensuring responsibility for each one is shared between 3 entities:
1 – Each bowl belongs to Pet-Friendly Routes
2 – Image rights belong to the pet featured
3 – And they are maintained by the Establishment where they are located
Though every pet owner and passer-by is responsible for maintaining each bowl on the route.
Getting involved in our Pet-Friendly Routes means believing that together, we can leave our mark on the world. To join a Pet-Friendly Route, you’ll need to sign a liability and commitment agreement for the project and specific bowl assigned to your pet.
In return, your pet will be advertised on the Pet-Friendly Routes communication channels, both within Portugal and internationally, they will be placed on the water bowl location map and will become part of a network that promotes good international practices for pet-friendly establishments.
All members of Pet Friendly Routes sign a disclaimer in which they commit to looking after, protecting and providing fresh water to passing animals.
This is where the EMOTION comes in, one of the three success factors for any project, which is why we only choose real pets filled with personality who tell stories to generate interactions. That’s how we select the stars of our Pet-Friendly Routes. But before we could start handpicking pets, we needed entries, so we launched photo competitions on social media which brought in hundreds of applications and interactions. Photos had to meet certain characteristics to be eligible, and Pet Owners were asked to submit the photo of their pet with their name, instagram account (if they have one) and a funny story.
Together, we can change the world
We have a stream of new ideas we’d love to start work on, but first we want to make sure this one’s well-established so that we can really put our water bowls on the map. Then, and we don’t think it’ll be long, we’ll get launching the new ideas we’ve got brewing.