Who’s Gonna Walk the Dog? CritterKin App for Kids Answers the Question

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New, engaging and educational app by Startled Cat, Inc. helps change the family dynamic around puppies and pet care.

CritterKin App

As schools and families have become more comfortable using mobile devices to access content , there is a real desire for kids’ programs that are fun, educational and affordable. - Martin Keltz.

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There’s nothing cuter than a puppy. But as all too many families discover, that same adorable puppy requires constant and ongoing care and attention. The question of who will walk, feed, groom, bathe, train, and clean up after the puppy quickly becomes an issue. “Who is gonna walk the dog?” is the question everyone dreads because everyone is too busy. Kids blame school, parents have jobs. In the end, the frustrated parents, who gave into their children’s pleas for a pet against their better judgment, feel they have no choice but to return the dog to the shelter. It is a sad and tragic end to what had the potential to be a rewarding relationship. Fortunately, the members of Startled Cat believe they have a way to change the way these stories end with their new mobile app called CritterKin.

“CritterKin grew out of my own experiences as a child,” says Jena Ball, the artist and storyteller behind the project. “We had a little dog that had to be returned to the shelter because she didn’t like small children. It was heartbreaking and completely avoidable if we’d just done our homework. Based on that difficult lesson, I wanted to do three things:

  • Teach the basics of pet care
  • Create lovable characters that kids would identify, bond with, and learn important lessons from like empathy, understanding and respect
  • Give parents and their kids a way to connect and talk about the challenges of pet care.”

According to Martin Keltz, Emmy Award-winning producer of The Magic School and the Co-Founder and President of Scholastic Productions, Inc., the fact that CritterKin is a new media product, being delivered first as a mobile app for smart phones and tablets is also important. “As schools and families have become more comfortable using mobile devices to access content , there is a real desire for kids’ programs that are fun, educational and affordable,” says Keltz.

“We saw it happen with The Magic School Bus. By engaging with the stories and characters, kids’ attitudes, especially those of girls, changed about science,” says Keltz. “We believe that CritterKin can have the same impact by engaging kids, teaching them the basics of hands on, responsible pet care, and building their confidence and self-esteem.”

CritterKin is being developed in collaboration with the SPCA of Wake County, NC, an organization known for its creative use of new media to educate its community. “The SPCA agreed to collaborate on the CritterKin project because we share Startled Cat’s mission to change the face of animal adoption,” says Vanessa Budnick, the Humane Educator at the SPCA. “Too often a family decides to adopt a dog, but doesn’t have plan for what happens next. CritterKin is the answer to what happens next. It is designed to educate and support both the kids and their families so dogs are adopted into forever homes. We want happy endings for everyone in the family, including the puppy.”

The Startled Cat team is currently preparing to launch a Kickstarter campaign at the end of April to raise the final funds needed to hire the animators and coders who will make the stories and characters run on smart phones and tablets. To learn more about CritterKin and its grassroots, community based fundraising efforts, visit http://www.critterkin.com or call Jena Ball at 919-535-8472.

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Marty Keltz

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