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Despite her allergies to dogs and cats, Elizabeth Whitacre is devoting her life’s work to helping rescue groups and homeless pets.

Whitacre, 24, has formed two animal welfare organizations so far in her life and currently also runs a business selling software to help animal rescue groups manage their organizations.

She started young. She has been involved in animal rescue since she was 13. When she was 19 and a sophomore in college, she started the Progressive Animal Welfare Rescue. Also while in her teens, she helped run a no-kill animal shelter.

Currently, the recent University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate works with a partner, Justin Collier, to run the Family Pet Project – a website that allows people to rehome their pets directly to new families. They also operate Pawlytics, a software that helps animal shelters and rescue groups better manage their operations.

This year Pawlytics won a new venture competition from UNL’s Center for Entrepreneurship, getting a $25,000 prize.

Whitacre’s love for animals started as a child, but there was one problem -- she was allergic to dogs and cats. Her parents would not allow her to have a pet until she turned 13, when she got her “mangy mutt” Rex from the no-kill animal shelter that she would later help run and co-own. Rex meant the world to her, and she didn’t let her allergies prevent her from loving animals.

Currently, she has dogs and cats as well as two horses, ferrets and amphibians.

Whitacre left her home state to come to Lincoln in 2012 to attend UNL and decided to stay. Along the way, she had the idea to start a cat café, but she wasn’t able to raise the money she needed to open it.

While at UNL, she met Collier and told him she wanted to help homeless pets. Her idea was to start a website where people could find other homes for their pets without going through rescue groups. Collier decided to help.

The Family Pet Project not only allows people to find homes for their pets, it helps people find pet-friendly housing as well. Adoptees pay a fee for adopting a pet, and Whitacre and Collier charge a 10 percent commission.

While the organization is nationwide, most of the adoptions are done in Nebraska. They make sure the pets are going to the proper homes through the use of adoption applications and background checks.

In addition to Whitacre’s work with the Family Pet Project and Pawlytics, she works with Gateway Mall to host the Adopt + Shop Rescue Rally, where every month four different rescue organizations come with adoptable dogs.

Adoptable pets in the Lincoln area

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L Magazine editor

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