Lost Pet? New Tech Can Help Find Them

Finding Fido

Key Takeaways

  • You might be able to find your lost pet more quickly, thanks to new high-tech tracking and identification methods.
  • Petco Love’s new pet-finding program uses pet facial recognition technology.
  • The Fi Smart Dog Collar is a GPS tracking collar that connects to your smartphone, and for $99/year, it provides tracking of your pup.
Germany, Shetland Sheepdog running through a pond

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Wandering pets have a better chance of being found thanks to new animal tracking and identification technologies. 

Humane societies have recently partnered with Petco Love for their new pet-finding program, which uses pet facial recognition technology. You can upload your pet’s picture on the Petco Love Lost site, and the company claims it can recognize them using the same kind of software used to unlock your phone. Other innovative tech can track down your pet with wireless technology. 

"Ubiquitous cellular coverage makes it a no-brainer to leverage the networks to track your pet," Chris Baldwin, a product manager at Qualcomm Technologies, who uses a high-tech collar for his dog, said in an email interview. "This gives people peace of mind that no matter how far their pet has run or wandered off, there is a high likelihood they will be able to track them down." 

Saving Pets with Tech

Petco’s free facial recognition program launched nationally last month. The company says one in three pets will go missing in their lifetime. If a lost pet is searched for in the database, the software will take seconds to find a match. 

Of course, there are many other options for pet owners to choose from when deciding to track their pets. The Fi Smart Dog Collar, for example, is a GPS tracking collar that connects to your smartphone, and for $99/year, it provides tracking of your pup. A similar device is the Whistle Go Explorer, a GPS tracker built for pets that can be fitted on collars.

Fi plans to use the data it’s collecting through its dog collars to move into "holistic health tracking," Lucy Luneva, Fi’s PR manager, said in an email interview. This year the company plans to unveil the first-ever sleep tracker for dogs, she added. 

A cheaper solution than GPS is the PitchSmartBuckle Lost Pet Recovery Collars, which includes a Bluetooth tracker and built-in step counter that doesn’t need to be recharged. You could also consider attaching one of Apple’s new $29 AirTags to your pet’s collar.

Time is of the Essence

"Pets can go missing very quickly, whether they wander through an open gate, jump a fence, or get scared during a storm," Natalie Buxton, director of marketing at Operation Kindness, an animal shelter in North Texas, said in an email interview. "When tracking a lost pet, time is of the essence to recover them safely. If your pet is outfitted with a GPS tracker, that’s a great way to find them quickly." 

Another option, Buxton pointed out, is to make sure your pet is microchipped. You can’t track them in real-time with one, but it makes reunification much easier when they’re found. Most pet stores, vet clinics, and animal shelters can scan a found pet for a microchip and contact the owner. 

"Ubiquitous cellular coverage makes it a no-brainer to leverage the networks to track your pet."

Kim Komando, a digital lifestyle expert with a national radio program, credits a Fi tracking collar with finding her 2.5-year-old golden retriever, Abby. She said in an email interview that she couldn’t find Abby when she wandered off recently near their home in Santa Barbara. 

"I had my phone out using our Fi Smart Collar tracking app, and it kept telling me she was in the house, but I was sure this was a mistake," Komando said. "I knew she had gotten out of our backyard; there’s no way she could be in the house. I switched to using this special dog whistle to find her, and lo and behold, Fi was right. She had gotten out of our backyard, but went around the house and to the front door."

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