The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Facebook for pets? New website could draw herds

By Joshua Knopp/tr news editor

Does your pet seem lonely? Does it not get out of the house enough? Does it seem to exist only to eat, sleep and excrete waste?Maybe it should join Facebook.While the regular site would be of little use to pets, a new site exists just for them called Petbooknow.com. Established in 2010, the site offers pet owners a chance to create a profile for their pets and features a wide variety of social networking functions. Profiles still communicate through chat and video-chat functions common across the Internet but also features numerous pet-related features. According to the site, these include functions helping members find lost pets, pets for sale and pets of a specific stock for breeding.

The CEO of the website is none other than TR speech adjunct Sheldon Smart.

“The idea behind it is it’s kind of like Facebook for pets,” Smart said. “I was on Facebook, and I thought, ‘Why doesn’t someone do one for people who love pets?’”

Smart says the site is currently working on deals with animal shelters, who will post listings on the site in exchange for advertising, and with pet hotels for a more traditional advertising deal.

Something else coming down the pipeline is a feature that would see veterinarians on camera answering questions users post. Smart said the site already has one veterinarian ready to start and plans to have the videos up before the end of the year. The potential is there to have a live chat feature with a veterinarian.

Smart isn’t working alone. He met the company’s CFO, Sharrard Owens, at a college networking event in 2006, and the two wanted to go into business together as soon as they met.

Owens, who is in the second year of a three-year program at Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, praised Smart’s work ethic in contributing to their project.

“Sheldon works really hard,” Owens said. “His background is amazing. When he wanted to get into business with me, I knew he would work. He wouldn’t say he wanted to do something without putting the effort behind it.”

When Owens said Smart’s background is amazing, it was a bit of an understatement.

Smart emigrated from Trinidad and Tobago with $400.57 in his pocket and started attending Clarendon College in Clarendon, a small city in the Texas Panhandle. He did odd jobs for money, such as mowing lawns and painting, and received progressively larger scholarships as his schooling went on. In seven and a half years, he got an associate from Clarendon, a bachelor’s in business from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a master’s in communication from the University of Texas at Arlington. After taking Spanish II, which he says he will probably do at TCC this spring, he will complete another bachelor’s from UTSA, this one in public relations.

“I never went to summer school,” he said. “I was always taking 21 hours a semester with a job.”

Smart said the last semester of his bachelor’s, in which he took 24 credit hours while working 20 hours a week, was particularly difficult.

“I needed to get special permission to do it,” he said. “I was so tired, I missed my own graduation.”

Irene Thrower, TR speech department chair, says that Smart’s experience makes him good to work with in a traditional teaching capacity as well.

“I think Sheldon embodies the idea of lifelong learner,” Thrower said. “When I see him engage with his students, I think he’s truly innovative with some of the things he asks his students in terms of communication.”

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