Help Decide The Next Itchmo Service

What other services for pet owners can Itchmo provide?

Once upon a time (like February), we were a resource for local pet owners in Seattle. As the recalls broke, we became a national source for pet news. As we grew, we continued to add services for pet owners, like the Itchmo Safety Alert emails, ItchmoForums (with more than 1,000 members), we’ve also added more pet-related news — more than tripling the amount of news posted daily.

Throughout this, we’ve realized that a community for pet owners was absolutely needed. Our goal is to provide a place for pet owners to get the latest info that affects their lives. So we’re asking for your input again. Please answer the poll below, or suggest something in the comments.

42 Responses to “Help Decide The Next Itchmo Service”

  1. Amy says:

    I think it would be nice to have a listing of pet services/products along with a place for user reviews. I know I usually check epinions and Amazon before buying products, and Petsmart & Petco have reviews of their products, but it would be nice to have a place to review vets, pet products & services, that’s not related to a retail establishment or any of the providers.

  2. Dana says:

    Your site has been invaluable throughout this entire food mess! I like how the news is presented in brief blurbs with more to follow. I have gained a wealth of information from your main site as well as the forums. I would hate to see much change as I think your focus has remained constant as has your reporting of “food” news and other animal interests. I hope your site will remain pretty much as it is. It is easy to navigate, and we know right where to go for news. Thank you for your complete coverage of news and for giving us nice stories and pics to see too.

    ITCHMO ADMIN: I should clarify. We’re looking for an ADDITIONAL service to this site. Itchmo will continue to do the same as it did before.

  3. Lynne says:

    Is an Action Alert something anyone would be interested in or should that be left to the “big” groups? We all abhor the puppy mills and food scandals but impotent griping online and actually contacting the decision makers are two very different things. It can be impowering to actually affect change and as HSUS points out, voter blocs are what politicians pay attention to most: even above money.
    Link about voting for animals:http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2007/06/lets_get_politi.html

    Itchmo has some remarkable people and resources and I thoroughly enjoy this blog. Thank God for caring people. I think there are enough of us networking to make some needed changes in our country. Imagine a bloc of people demanding an end to puppy mills….

  4. Rick says:

    Amy Says:

    June 14th, 2007 at 3:33 pm
    I think it would be nice to have a listing of pet services/products along with a place for user reviews.

    I like Amy’s idea!

  5. Elaine Vigneault says:

    I think expansion at this time is a bit early.

    But if I had to say there were pet things I wanted more of, they’d be:
    -more in depth investigations, like going undercover at a doggy daycare or pet store
    -pet food & treat recipes
    -book suggestions
    -website recommendations

  6. karen says:

    i think that a web directory would be great!

  7. Bridgett says:

    I think you guys/gals are doing a great job. Do you know you were listed as a resource for pet food recall info in the June Bark magazine?

    As far as expanding your services, well, the local listings would be good idea. I am not from your area but for your readers who are, that would be a good resource.

  8. cats says:

    I enjoy being directed to animal u-tube videos that are not mean.
    I also like the idea of customer reviews on products like amazon.com does.
    I enjoy animal rescue stories.
    Recommendations of good pet food testing labs might be a possibility.
    Advice on which bones are good for dogs and which to steer clear of.
    Advice on which toys for cats are good and which to stay away from.

  9. cats says:

    Additional suggestion: I have a cat screen saver, one with a succession of different cats. Wouldn’t mind a new one–this one is three years old (but I still enjoy it).

    Possibly a screen saver of different dogs, but I have to confess to being first and foremost a “CAT” person, since I do not own any dogs.

  10. e wem says:

    ‘cats’ suggestion about customer reviews is good. I always go to Amazon, and epionions to read reviews about purchases I am considering.

    I have been reading all the comments from itchmo readers about the pet foods they are using. Because of them I have gotten a free sample case of Evangers for my cats that I am trying out, and I am now testing a kibble that seems to be safer.

    Comments or forum threads are the easiest way to add reviews but it is hard to find pet stuff on the web.

    I found some unique shower heads for bathing pets after long long searches past sites all selling the same old thing. It would be nice to see if itchmo readers had used these devices. Site testimonials are not as useful and could be faked out. These items all look good but are not real cheap so a review would be a great help:

    Brush n Wash
    http://www.brushnwash.com/index.html

    My Pet Washer
    http://www.mypetwasher.com/index.htm

    Pet Wash with coiled hose
    http://www.omahavaccine.com/pa.....93341&

    Shampette
    http://www.washyourpet.com/

    I have stored away a bunch of interesting pet sites. They can be really hard to find in Google or Yahoo

  11. Sandi K says:

    Hey Ben, I was thinking it would be interesting and maybe very helpful to have a place set up that people could go to in order to see what symptoms other peoples pets are/were having that ate the tainted pet food. Maybe it could just be a spot in your forums section? But Im seeing alot of people describing symptoms that havent been talked about alot and it would be interesting to see if there is correlation between eating the tainted food and some of these symptoms that are being described. Is that a possibility? Thanks for all of your help again, Sandi

  12. Steve says:

    The numbers never lie. You can see whats really important to people by looking at the comment numbers on all these blog topics.

    Keeping quality up is more important right now then anything else. And managing growth. Don’t get over your head.

  13. Anon for this says:

    I agree with Steve. Right now keep with what you’re doing and don’t branch out into anything else for awhile. It is easier than you might realize for good intentions to grow to get out of control. Better to do less very efficiently than too much and lose quality. The recall issues are far from over it seems, even though the FDA is trying to bury the results you have posted. Keep on track.

  14. rjc says:

    I’d like to see pet friendly businesses. So far all the places on petfriendly.com that advertise as dog friendly aren’t. restaurants that claim to alow dogs at their outside tables don’t. Sad. We need an updated and reviewed list.

  15. Bridgett says:

    Yes, don’t lose what you have achieved!

  16. Big Fat Momma Cat says:

    The Web, it’s all about communication.

    The forum is extremely important and it’s a great service that you guys provide. If we had that before perhaps folks could have figured out what was going on with the melamine last summer, sometime, and perhaps so many pets would not have died. So, just know that you are doing a lot already! Thanks!!!

    The animals themselves need help with adoptions, rescue, and neutering. I think the organizations already involved need more awareness of each other and better communication between them. Plus, I think there are many folks who want to help but don’t know what to do or where to go. If you wonderful folks at Itchmo could provide a place for locating and organizing them and put the word out that it’s available then… well, you know: “if you build it; they will come”

  17. Anon for this says:

    If you build it; they will come. Trying to keep up with all the different aspects of rescue, adoptions by breed or breed mixes and states, cats and dogs, I just think that the work being accomplished here would be buried too easily and overrun. Maybe a separate website domain that would link to this? Therese at petsitusa branched out into thepetfoodlist as a separate .com. Awesome job so far here!

  18. AM says:

    My opinion and vote went to “Don’t add anything”. I come here near everyday for the site the way it is.

  19. Jen says:

    I think all the ideas are GREAT but I feel the directory would be the best (for now).

  20. Katie says:

    I agree with everyone above! I love this place and come here first. The pet food cont. and people food problem while my first priority right now, I have totally enjoyed the other articles and especially the humor - when I feel low you have made me smile!

    I like the idea of reviews of pet related items.

    Also, think it would be helpful to have info. re: when pet illness strikes other areas of the country. Ex. State of Virginia has reappearance of the dog influenza this week. It helps to know what could be coming rather than finding out when it’s to late.

    Thanks Itchmo for everything you have done, you will never know the difference you have made in our lives and our pets lives.

    Katie

  21. CL says:

    I agree with Amy - have real pet-owners review and rate pet services and products.

    But wait until the food crisis is over - that is of ultimate importance and it looks like it will be ongoing for awhile.

    Thank you very much for keeping on top of the tainted food disaster!

  22. 8tiggers says:

    Maybe add forum groups for the major metropolitan areas? People could post where they bought (or ask where to buy) certain foods/supplies/toys locally and post about local events. I thought of this when the recall started and I ran all over town trying to find premium cat food. Most of the manufacturer websites are woefully out of date and calling a pet supply store generally gets you some apathetic kid who can’t be bothered to check if they carry an item.

  23. Sky Eyes Woman says:

    Please, no “Free classifieds ads site for pet owners (like Craigslist)” unless it is strictly for pet products ONLY and not for selling puppies and kittens. There are enough websites out there for the backyard breeders to hawk their wares without Itchmo getting in on the act.

    ITCHMO ADMIN: Of course.

  24. 5CatMom says:

    Would like a good search engine to search the archives. Would like to be able to search by name, i.e., 5CatMom, word search, i.e., Menu.

    This is a great informative website, but the info seems to get lost too quickly.

  25. Pit Bull Lover says:

    Itchmo logo gear? I was thinking just yesterday that I’d love an Itchmo t-shirt!

  26. Amy says:

    5CatMom - I was just thinking the same thing earlier about searching the archives! Someone might post some good advice but after a few days (some days it only takes a few minutes there are so many posts!) it’s hard to find the information again.

    ITCHMO ADMIN: 5CatMom and Amy, your wish is my command. Based on your comments, we just implemented a search powered by Google that searches news, comments and our forums. Try it out and let us know!

  27. e wem says:

    These are excellent comments. Probably Steve is right. What grew itchmo was the ease of use - we didnt even have to remember a password, and the fastest bestest sharing of information about the pet poisonings. I always come to itchmo first, because I dont have the time to search the many more complicated sites and I am scared to death I might miss something that will hurt my pet

    I missed not having a pet food recall link at the top of the home page today. I had a mini panic attack and at the thought itchmo was bored and moving on

    I can compare itchmo to gardenweb. That site was run by someone called Spike. It has a series of forums on every aspect of gardening and attracted the best people. So good it was amazing. People like me could be chatting with retired horticulturalists, farmers, landscapers, contractors. I fell in love with that site. It expanded to remodeling, bird watching etc. Still great.

    Then gardenweb was sold to Readers Digest. You had to get in thru ivillage (as in ‘it takes a village’ political commentary) .They started covering the content with ads unless you started to pay up. They backed off some of the ads. It is still a great site, with great great archives, but it has lost a lot of contributors. I still go back but I miss the old site

    I know itchmo has to make money to pay for bandwidth. The comment section is easier to use than the forums. Just hope you don’t change too much and don’t let those big guys buy you off

    best wishese

    ITCHMO ADMIN: e wem, we will take your advice to heart. It’s great advice.

    BTW. I think the recall link change is actually a bug we fixed today. It used to appear too high (in the logo area) in some versions of Internet Explorer. Today, it was moved to the place I originally intended and cleaned up a bit.

  28. cats says:

    Just a thought. How about a used product service where people could sell their used dog houses, pet carriers, gates, condos, etc.

    As mentioned before by someone, I would like to compare symptons from poisoning with other pet owners.

  29. Scratch says:

    Thank you Itchmo for such a wonderful site. It is my hope something that works so well will not be dramatically changed.
    Comments to some of the 28 prior responses.
    Remember to buy local when possible or the store will not be there when you need them, be careful shifting too much to online purchasing. I really like the archive and search engine idea. Thank you Ben for implementing this idea. As far as selling items, in my opinion this would be an administration nightmare. Consider selling only Itchmo items to help raise awareness and of coarse money for Itchmo. Itchmo is the best. I wouldn’t want to see it spread to thin with a lot of side jobs. I would go for enhancements only.

    Maybe a by state resource, alert, and review would be a good new post. This would help support the good local stores.

  30. Scratch says:

    Sorry. The state resource post I mentioned could also include wildlife help, shelters, rescue and education groups, pet seminars, pet happenings, pet news, etc.

  31. xyz says:

    Continuing US and International Alerts to outbreaks of illness, disease and recalls would be so helpful. My friends in other countries didn’t hear much about the food and symptoms in their news. Being able to send them a link (knowing you would cover news elsewhere) helped bridge the information gap. Some of them alerted their vets to Itchmo because news was so slow to filter through.

    I also appreciate reports of human product recalls that have been posted. So often what affects us affects our pets, and visa versa.

  32. Janine says:

    Hi-

    As a cat mom of 5 cats still recovering from the recall, I can’t thank you enough for this site. It saved my cats’ lives and helped me maintain my own sanity at a very, very dark moment.

    As far as suggestions for the future, I would love to see a directory of pet friendly restaurants, vacation destinations, hotels, events, etc. from all over the US. I live in Cleveland, Ohio, and am often saddened by the fact I can’t take my old German Shepard many places with me.

    Thanks for all you do. I am a loyal fan for life.

  33. HomeGrown says:

    I think the product reviews idea is a good one. I have been concerned about the possibility of lead in a number of pet toys, etc. Considering that the infant bibs and toys have been recalled for lead, everything plastic or rubber I wonder about. Maybe when listing products you could also list country of origin? I know sometimes that may take some research and possibly the purchase of a home lead test. But it sure would help us to know if a product is not good for our furkids and us also, since we and our children would be handling them.

  34. HomeGrown says:

    I just wanted to add that you would be the only site (that I know of) doing this. It could be your “niche”. As a customer I want to know a little more than to look at a picture of an item, I can do that at a number of sites. In light of what has transpired of late, I want to know it’s safe, free of lead and if people found it useful, that would be the icing.

  35. JanC says:

    I honestly can’t think of anything you should do to change Itchmo that would make it any better or more informative.

    Throughout these past three months, I was on the internet almost constantly, checking Itchmo & other pet websites for the latest news, reading posts to see what else was going on with other pet parents & checking the forums.

    If any of us had to depend on the media, we would’ve known absolutely nothing about what was really going on & I believe many more pets would’ve fallen ill or died. For that, Ben, you are my hero! My vet wasn’t even able to keep up with the newest recalls so I gave one of her techs this website to sign up for email alerts. I think it’s a pretty sad state of affairs when vets don’t even have somewhere to go to get the latest news, especially in a fiasco like this one where it keeps on going & going & going (like that annoying bunny).

    I love the stories you post, both serious & humorous, so I also check that each morning. You have developed a wonderful website & I personally don’t think you need to do anything else. I think those who have stuck with you through this recall will always be coming back here to see how everyone & their pets are doing & also to check out what new funny or informative story is posted so you can plan on consistently high traffic……at least imho.

    Sorry, don’t mean to rant & rave like a slobbering idiot (which this recall has helped me to become on some days)….another thing that has been invaluable is the input from other pet parents about their experiences with a certain pet food or their interaction with the company. For a while there, most of us were afraid the safe food for today was tomorrow’s recall. So I’m happy with the way things are.

  36. pat says:

    Itchmo is a wonderful site. It has been and continues to be an invaluable tool helping people and their companion animals wade through the often confusing information about the pet food recall and its aftershocks. I’m an Itchmo reader for life now, as i expect many other will be. there have been lots of good suggestions here: the pet product reviews is an excellent idea, a vet directory with reviews would also be very helpful, as well as rescue and no-kill shelter listings, perhaps links to places people can go to find out about acquiring a service dog, perhaps updates on current legislation about animals, laws governing animals by state maybe… the list is endless. And I like the idea of Itchmo gear, too. I would be proud to wear an Itchmo t-shirt… and how cool would an “My parents visit itchmo.com” dog jacket be?

    I think it’s good that you’re planning ahead so that if the pet food mess is *ever* resolved, Itchmo will continue to be a vital part of the online community devoted to companion animals.

  37. Jill Leonard says:

    I’d like to see info on vaccinations - products, safety, effectiveness, recommended schedules, side effects and complications, people’s direct experience. There is mucho controversy about vacs. There are a vast variety as well: giardia, lymes, bordatella, feline leuk, parvo, leptosporosis, etc. etc.

    I think vacs should be as engaging as the pet food recall to people who are concerned with the health of their pets.

  38. YaYa says:

    Hi Itchmo, it wod be hard to improve on thing you’ve thought out so well already! But a couple things I’d thouht of.
    I like the new things every day, sometimes certain news or links or article etc. move off TOO fast tho. And it takes a while to hunt up “that article” “that Link”, let alone the ‘name or reference” to find it even if in archives.

    Would it be possible to have one section be more ‘permanent’ on the Hompage that is for maybe 5 days worth or 7 for, Important type links we find and need to read and refer to?
    Not so much a huge discussion about the links or articles but more streamlined for that purpose? For Interesting or important links posted, with maybe a word limit- on the ‘replies part’ if any?

    Maybe just a icon, on the Homepage, to link to it, to post and click on things there? Then move it to the last weeks, after the 5-7 days archives and start anew.

    I’d like to see your Badge logo alert thing in such a place too.
    {hope this made sense!} :-P

    Also I just wanted you to be aware of recent suits being brought against- like what is it “Angie’s list”? like craiglists in a way, but for Business reviews and opinions etc. ratings.

    That list is being Sued for opinions posted that a gentleman says were False and ruined his Business. etc.

    Ratings and approvals/opinions on ‘products and services’ can be tricky today. And it takes alot of monitoring too {time}.

    Some of the above requests could be in the section{s} of the Icon I am talking about?

    {things also get lost in the Forums so maybe a seperate “page” is what I’m talking about?}

    Thank you for the opportunity to put in suggestions for an already Great Website!

  39. YaYa says:

    Wooops! I mean links, article in things WE post within the Treads! Not the Itchmo article and links so much. The things WE find and post lnks for in the Treads.

    I hope that’s explains better :-D

  40. Ala says:

    I agree with Amy. I`ve run into a few vets,groomers, and small pet shops that I would never set foot into again. I`ve aslo run into some that were great. It would be nice to have a place to let other people know about them.

  41. 5CatMom says:

    Ichmo’s site is great in the content department, but would like to see a couple of “operational” type changes.

    As mentioned above, a search engine for the archives is needed.

    Also, would like to see the “recall news” (or other “hot topics) have a permanent place at the top of the page with the photos, et al, scrolling “below” the hot topics.

    I refer many folks to this website for recall news. One of them said “I went there, but all I saw was pictures. Where do they hide the news?”

  42. Amy says:

    YaYa - if I’m not mistaken, Angie’s list is a site where you must pay to join and post a review about local contractors, services, etc. So, if you’re not a paying member then you can’t post an opinion which would obviously leave the site open to lawsuit as only those willing to pay a fee are having their opinions heard. On the other hand, anyone can review a product at Amazon, sure you have to sign up but you don’t have to pay to post which allows a better opportunity to give a variety of opinions on a product with no limits due to being a non-subscriber. Same with epinions.com, there is no fee to pay, just give your report, good or bad, and move on. So, if you keep the ability to post a review free and add all necessary legal disclaimers, monitor the posts for obscenities or flaming, I think Itchmo would be fine. But I’m not a lawyer and I would suggest they ask one before starting a review section on the site if that’s what they choose to do.


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