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North Hills Monthly

Technology Making it Easier to Track Down Lost Dogs

Oct 31, 2017 05:18PM ● By Vanessa Orr

If you have a dog, you probably know the feeling. One minute they’re on the end of the leash or in the house…the next moment they’re not. Whether your dog has shaken off his collar in the pursuit of a deer or slipped out the gate when a visitor stopped by, the thought remains the same…What do I do now?

There are a number of steps you can take, and organizations that you can call for help. In this age of technology, there are also a lot of apps you can use to bring your dog (and sometimes cats) home.

PawBoost is an app that enables you to post to a PawBoost-powered Facebook page in the area, and it also adds your missing animal to the web’s largest lost and found database. The app will also alert members of its Rescue Squad, a group of roughly 317,000 volunteers, shelter employees, vets and pet lovers, for free. If you want to invest more in your search, you can pay for PawBoost’s sponsored Facebook posts, which it says provides 10 times the exposure on the social media platform. Available for iOS and Android.

Finding Rover and PiP (Positive Identification of Pet) both use facial recognition technology to reunite pets—both dogs and cats—with owners. The only problem is that you need to have registered and provided a facial photo of your pet before the animal goes missing so that the cloud-based technology can match your pet’s face to the faces of found pets that are posted on its site. PiP also broadcasts an immediate notification to veterinarians, animal control, rescue agencies and to PiP subscribers in the area, as well as to social media. These apps are free and available for iOS and Android.

ASPCA has a mobile app that includes a personalized missing pet recovery kit with advice on how to search for a missing animal. It also allows users to build a digital flyer that can be shared instantly on social media. Available for iOS and Android, it also lets users access information on what to do in an emergency, even if there is no data connectivity.

There are numerous websites that can help locate pets as well., which bills itself as the number one national lost pet recovery system with an 85 percent success rate, allows you to send free alerts to 25 local shelters and rescues and also lets you generate a free lost pet flyer. You can also pay to “supercharge” your listing, giving your pet 25 percent more exposure, and sending an Amber Alert to neighbors.

The database allows you to register your pet, and you are contacted when “matching” found dogs are added to the website. You can also sign up for shelter alerts, or to be included in a neighborhood watch. This site also offers Tabby Trackers, the largest public lost cat database.

There are a number of local Facebook pages dedicated to finding lost animals in the local area as well. One of the most well-known in the area is Reuniting Dogs with Families (Pittsburgh Area) that has more than 13,000 friends on Facebook. When your dog is on the run, it’s extremely important to have as many eyes out there as possible—and most members of this organization are also willing to help if you need feet on the ground. 

Members post both lost dogs and found dogs, and many matches have been made this way between wandering canines and their worried parents. There are also lost and found pages for specific breeds on Facebook, such as Pittsburgh Pit Bulls Lost/Found Advocate and groups by area, including Lost and Found Pets in Fayette County, and Lost Dogs Pittsburgh. There are also pages for non-canines, such as Lost/Found Cats Pittsburgh.

You Can Still Go Old-school

When your pet is missing, it’s smart to take advantage of as many outlets as possible to let people know. And while technology is great, rescue groups still advise making a paper flyer and posting it in as many places as you can in the area around where your pet went missing. Call all of your local shelters, veterinarians and rescues, and if your area employs animal control companies, don’t just call—go to those facilities and look for yourself to see if your missing pet is there. Unfortunately, those pets aren’t kept for very long, and you may not always get an accurate answer when you describe your dog over the phone. 

Most important, take precautions before anything bad happens. Make sure your pet has current tags (on a separate collar than the one you put the leash on, in case it slips off), and get your animal microchipped. You never know when a pet might slip away, but you can always be prepared to help it come home.