In order to upload your pets to Petfinder, you must first have an account with them. If you don't already have one please visit their website to sign up, and continue this setup process after you have an approved account.
You must add all of your pets to your RescueGroups.org pet list before enabling the import in your Petfinder account. Once you enable the import, all pets, including available and adopted, will be deleted and replaced with the available pets from your RescueGroups.org pet list.
If you are unsure, please contact RescueGroups.org Support before continuing.
Limitations in exporting to Petfinder
There are a few limitations to what the Petfinder FTP allows us to upload. Most notably:
- Videos and Video URLs will not add to your pets when you use the FTP upload. There will be no videos associated with your pets.
- Petfinder does not allow any HTML in the animal descriptions. Any HTML will be removed from the pet descriptions.
- Pet-specific locations will not be set. All pets will inherit the default account location.
- Only pets with a sex selected will be imported. Pets without a sex selected will be ignored by the Petfinder import.
- The Petfinder import currently only provides the ability to upload three pictures per pet.
Directly from the Petfinder documentation: There are some fields available in the Petfinder admin area that import does not yet support. To name a few: Arrival Date, Primary Color, Secondary Color, Coat Length, Birth Date, Animal Location, Animal Location Notes, Contact Person, Video, Primary Photo.
To voice your thoughts and comments concerning the above limitations imposed by Petfinder please contact them directly: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. RescueGroups.org is not responsible for these limitations and can do nothing about them other than to ask you to encourage Petfinder to make the necessary enhancements.
Setup your Petfinder Export
To set up your export to Petfinder and then import into their system:
- Send an email from an email address on your Petfinder account to email@example.com and include the following information:
- Your Petfinder shelter ID
- A request that Petfinder configures your account for import from RescueGroups.org
- A statement that you understand that your Petfinder pet list will be replaced with your pets from your RescueGroups.org account
- When you receive a response from Petfinder help it will include your FTP account username and password. Forward that email to RescueGroups.org support.
- When we receive the FTP account information that you forward, we will configure your export to Petfinder. We will then contact you by email to let you know the export has been configured. This email will share instructions on how to enable the export within your RescueGroups.org account.
Here is a sample email you can send to Petfinder. Be sure to update the shelter ID to your actual account. Please note that Petfinder will delete all pets from your account in preparation for the import from RescueGroups.org.
Please set up an FTP account for my account XX1234 and import from RescueGroups.org. If my organization already has an FTP account with Petfinder, please provide the password so I can forward it to RescueGroups.org. Please remove all existing pets from our account in preparation for the upload from RescueGroups.org.
For enabled Petfinder exports, our system uploads data to Petfinder within an hour of a change made to animals in your RescueGroups.org account.
Petfinder processes uploads as quickly as they can, but be aware that it may take significant time to see the uploaded data in your Petfinder account. Petfinder may take up to 24 hours to update animal listings and up to 36 hours to add new pictures. If your Petfinder account is taking longer than these time estimates, contact our support team. We can speak to Petfinder on your behalf to ensure that your export is configured correctly.
Unexpected exports by Petfinder
Petfinder sends your pets to an undocumented number of websites, including classified websites like eBay and Kijij. RescueGroups.org does not have any control over those uploads from Petfinder.
To check to see if your pets are being sent to that unknown list of websites, do the following:
- Log in to your Petfinder account.
- Click on the Organization Info tab.
- At the bottom, you will see check boxes for Partner sites and Petfinder API Users.
We believe that eBay and Kijiji are in the "Partner sites" category.
Please remember that RescueGroups.org tells you who has access to your public information. You can control your exports from the Animals > Exports page, but we are not responsible for any additional sharing, or how that sharing is managed.
Common troubleshooting steps
Check the Petfinder "help" web page for outages and known issues that Petfinder is reporting. The most common issues that have been reported to us include:
- "Pictures not updating." If Petfinder reports that pictures are not updating, you should not expect them to appear on the public pet list. This affects your pets regardless of whether you are using RescueGroups.org to update your Petfinder pet list. See the troubleshooting pictures item below for additional information.
- "Pets not updating. Search is out of sync, no updates." You may or may not see your pets on the public pet list when Petfinder is reporting an issue related to "pets not updating."
- Check the Petfinder Pro page. Do your pets and pictures appear there? If so, the upload from RescueGroups.org ran correctly, but the Petfinder system has not updated their "public" pet list.
- Outdated or duplicate pet entries on Petfinder may be caused by editing an uploaded RescueGroups.org animal through your Petfinder account. If you edit animals directly through your Petfinder account, the animal listing may no longer be recognized as part of the RescueGroups.org upload and therefore, the animal will not be updated. If the animal is still available in RescueGroups.org, there may have been a new listing created in Petfinder, so it will appear as a duplicate listing. We recommend that you manually remove the edited animal from your Petfinder admin account to remove the outdated or duplicate entry.
- If your Petfinder Pet List is not in sync and new animals are not being added:
- Verify that your Petfinder export is still enabled in RescueGroups.org by going to Animals > Exports.
- Verify that your Petfinder Automatic Pet Importing setting is still set to ON. If your Petfinder account is no longer set to Automatic Pet Import, we recommend that you reconfigure your Petfinder account to again allow uploads from RescueGroups.org. You may also want to bulk delete your Petfinder animal list as it may be out of date. If your RescueGroups.org export is still enabled, a bulk delete will soon be repopulated with clean data when RescueGroups.org next performs an automatic upload. You can perform a bulk delete from your animal admin page in your Petfinder account by clicking Select All and then updating the status to Deleted.
Common issues you may experience when trying to update your Petfinder pet list
- Pets on Petfinder have not been updated or added:
- Check the Petfinder "help" page to see if they are reporting any known issues, like pet lists not being updated, slow logins, denied logins, or pictures not being updated.
- Make sure the pet(s) have the Petfinder account selected under Export Accounts.
- Pictures are missing on specific pets or are in the incorrect order:
- Petfinder does not provide the ability to change a pet's picture once one has been added. So, if your pet has 2 pictures already, they will never change. You can add a third picture, but the previously added pictures will never change.
- The easiest way to get a pet's pictures to update is to delete that pet from your Petfinder admin pet list. The next time your data is uploaded from RescueGroups.org a new copy of that pet will be added, and the current pictures should be added by Petfinder.
If you have worked through all of the recommendations and troubleshooting steps reported above and have not been able to resolve your issue, request our help.
If you open a support ticket with us
If you open a support ticket with us concerning animals that are missing, or animals that have not yet been taken off of the Petfinder list, we will ask you to do the following:
- Login to your Petfinder admin pet list. Are the pets correct there? If so, we will ask you to exercise patience. We'll also ask you to check the Petfinder "help" page to see if Petfinder is experiencing any issues that would prevent the public pet list from updating in a timely manner.
- Send us specific examples of pets that are missing from your admin pet list, have not been removed from your admin pet list, or have missing pictures.