Team : Claudio Barboza, Raquel Alonso Palomo

Project repository : animal-life-jacket


A floating device to save the life of domestics animals and make easier the rescue

Project Summary

We’ve designed a life-jacked for dogs. We came with this idea after talking to some people in Kerala and they told us that making something to help move the animals would be the best solution, as people had a really hard time doing it. Many people risked their lives to save their pets and, saving the pets, we would also securing people.
We’ve made the prototype with a waterproof canvas. It was fairly easy, we made the shape using AutoCAD and cut it with the laser machine, already with the pockets for the bottles, so we just had to attach them.



We try it (video)

Life-jacket for dogs

How to size your dog to have the perfect life jacket!



A floating device to save the life of domestics animals and make easier the rescue

First step

When we first heard about the context for which we would develop our project, we immediately thought about making something for the people. Thinking about people losing there homes made us go for the probably must obvious solutions in an architecture school: a shelter; in our case, a temporary one.

Our plans soon changed: we realised the scale was too big for the FabLabs to produce it in large scale. After this, we stocked for sometime thinking in what to do, as we couldn’t find something that would be useful, practical to make and possible for the FabLabs fabricate it. After some research, we finally noticed that, in many pictures, there were people trying to save their animals; some of them even risking their lives. So, we came to the conclusion to design something to help those people and their animals.


At the beginning, we focused mostly in saving livestock. We saw that most families in the region have their livestock (in different scales) and they were essential for the survival of the people. Having this in mind, we started looking for the most common death causes in Kerala during the floods and we found two that appeared more: the animals would go somewhere where they couldn’t leave and and have no food, so they would die; or the people, fleeing from the flood, would leave the animals locked or tied, so they wouldn’t be able to swim to safety. Those were the starting points of our project for the animals.


Our first idea came when we your at the FabLab in Haugimont. We thought about making a floating structure that would supply food for the animals. It was quite simples: arch-like pieces would be attached to each other through wood beams. Also attached to the structures, there would be bottles where the food would be stocked. We draw the pieces in AutoCAD and cut them with a machine in the FabLab. We made holes in the arch-like pieces so we can passed the others through there. Also, we joined the pieces with rope, so we can be sure they are well fixed.


After making the prototype, talking to the teachers and the other students, we realised that it was not really functional. It was to big to be made in a FabLab and it would not actually work, as it would be necessary to someone to put food there and it wouldn’t help save the animals, only provide a bit more of food but, if the water levels raised even more, the structure would be useless.


We focus

To clarify our minds, we sent emails to organisations that helped animals in Kerala and they #aid that maybe we need something to help move the animals. We then decided to make something smaller and that would be for each animal and the first thing that came to our mind was life-jackets. We started designing it for livestock, as our initial plan. Seeing that it would be difficult to make for all kinds of animals, we decided to make for one of the most common, the goat. We designed something that wouldn’t disturb the goats movements while she swims and that would be adjustable so it can fit different sizes of goats.


We talked to a veterinarian to have professional help, and he told us that it may not work with goats, because they wouldn’t be used to it and it could stress them more, making the situation, even worse; nevertheless, the idea was good and could work with domestic animals. Taking this advice, we changed from goats to dogs.

The dogs can be used to it by their owners and act normally with the life-jacket. Also, it’s easier to put it in a dog than in a goat that it’s not that used to human contact. To make the prototype, we looked fit the seven most common types of dogs in the region and we ended up with four sizes of jackets. We made then the one that would fit the biggest variety of dogs.

We draw the size and shape we wanted and cut it in the laser machine in the waterproof canvas. After, we attached the number of bottles we calculated it would be necessary to make the dog float.