This Twitter account can help you adopt a pet - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Jul. 17, 2015 11:05 am

This Twitter account can help you adopt a pet

@CutePetsBmore grew out of a conversation at Baltimore Data Day. Here's how to build a similar account for your city.
Dogs awaiting adoption at BARCS in 2013.

Dogs awaiting adoption at BARCS in 2013.

(Photo by Flickr user Brian George, used under a Creative Commons license)

Baltimore’s always-crowded animal shelters are always looking for people to adopt a pet. Now a new Twitter account is getting the word out about what furry friends are available.

@CutePetsBaltimore is a Twitter bot that processes animal shelter data to show pets that are currently up for adoption at BARCS and the Baltimore Humane Society. More shelters could be added in the coming weeks.

The Twitter account is the direct result of a panel on civic tech at last week’s Baltimore Data Day. Moderator Sharon Paley presented a few ideas on creative uses of data, including @CutePetsDenver. Panelist Ryan J. Smith, who spoke that day about his BmoreMapped project, lamented with Paley afterwards that Baltimore didn’t have a similar idea.

So he woke up the next morning and started work on an account for Baltimore.

“I went out Sunday afternoon and bought a Raspberry Pi to run my bot on,” Smith said. “Then in the evenings from Monday to Wednesday I sat down and wrote the code to run the bot.”

Less than a week later, it’s live.

Smith built the bot using a Python script that fetches shelter data from the animal adoption website Petango, then formats it into tweets.

“As far as I know, Petango doesn’t have an API for providing nicely formatted data, so my script scrapes the page and manually parses out the relevant data,” Smith said.

He’s using the Raspberry Pi to host the bot, which he said is a “cheap, low-cost, low-energy” alternative to servers like Heroku.

In case anyone from another city wants to add to the cuddly CutePets empire, Smith put the script on GitHub. Here’s a list of CutePets Twitter accounts that are currently operational. If your city’s not on there, get on it.

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