Friday, September 21, 2012

Locating your Lost Pet using Technology

Recently, Buzzfeed staffer Reyhan Harmanci posted an article listing various ways technology can help you find your missing pet.  I'd like to recap the selections here.  For the full post, visit here.
It turns out that beyond that there are a range of different tech options, although many are expensive, limited in effectiveness, and designed for larger animals...
Apps. LostPetTracker; sends an alert out to everyone else with the app, and then whenever someone found or lost a pet in my area, I would get an email. This seemed ... pointless. If someone happened to spot my cats and took a picture and uploaded it to the service, it would be geolocated and time-stamped, but the odds of that happening seem slim.
Other apps, like PetRescuers, similarly depend on good Samaritans to download an app and make reports of loose animals.
iPet Alert notifies vets as well as app users to be on the lookout, but, again, that requires opt-in.
Collars/trackers. When the animal shelter told me that my cats would be microchipped, I thought that that meant they could be geolocated if they were lost. Sadly, this is not the case: GPS units need power and no one has figured out a way to add tiny batteries to the inside of a cat. It is possible, though, to put that equipment on an animal's collar . Tagg, a leader in the field, works much like an iPhone finder: put a dongle on the animal's collar and Tagg uses cell phone networks to track it. You can establish a perimeter and get texts and emails if the pet breaks out. And the animal's location can be tracked from your phone or computer. 
Websites. As clunky as they seem, pet fliers are one of the most effective tools for finding an animal, and many have tried to translate that utility online. Craigslist, obviously, is a popular spot, but there is also Get Pets Home (a site where you can also get a scannable collar tag loaded with pet info, essentially an above-skin microchip), PetHub (another tag), Missing Pet Network (sad clip art), Fido Finder, Lost Pet USA and more.
What apps, websites, and current technology do you know of that might help locate a lost pet?  Add your suggestions in comments.
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