Lost Pets and Tracking Technology
Published on March 7, 2019 by A. Rothstein
A lost pet is a pet owner’s nightmare. Some dogs are notorious for being escape artists and sending their owners into a state of panic when they climb over a fence. Tracking a lost pet usually means driving through the neighborhood searching. Sometimes finding a lost pet means having to visit the city animal control facility or local rescues.
The fact is that more than 10 million lost pets each year, according to the American Humane Society. 90% of lost pets find themselves in shelters, or become homeless. Sadly, some lost pets are euthanized because owners did not know about the technology to find lost pets.
The good news for pet owners is that a study conducted by the ASPCA says 93% of dogs lost within the past five years were reunited. At least 15% of those dogs were reunited with their owners due to tracking technology.
Most people are familiar with GPS capabilities, but a lot of people aren’t aware that the same technology can monitor pets. Fortunately for pet owners, GPS and tracking chips for pets are available to find a pet if they should get lost.
Lost Pets and Tracking Technology
Some pet owners don’t understand pet tracking technology. There’s a difference between GPS microchips and chips implanted in their pet’s skin by a veterinarian. Personalized collar with the owner’s phone number is also a smart option. Each type of technology has its benefits. Here’s what a pet owner needs to know about devices to track their pet:
- GPS microchips devices transmit information about the location of a dog or cat in the same way a vehicle’s GPS operates. The GPS chip can be embedded into a pet’s collar. A GPS microchip provides the location of the dog or cat either by email or SMS. Some newer GPS systems can provide alerts about the status of the pet’s health.
- Microchips that are inserted into the dog or cat’s skin by a veterinarian are considerably smaller; approximately the size of one grain of rice. The chip operates on radio frequency technology. The microchip contains the following information:
- Microchip ID
- Owner’s name
- Contact information
- Breed of pet
- Dates of vaccines
- Pet’s description
Microchip information can only be read by a special scanner, which most veterinarians have. A lost pet can only find its family if it’s brought to a clinic or shelter with a microchip reader.
A pet owner may still need to decide which is the best option for their pet. In some countries, microchips are required. If a pet owner has adopted a dog from an international rescue, chances are the pet already has a chip. However, the pet owner may decide to get a GPS. Each type of technology is beneficial, and if the pet owner uses both, they may determine their dog or cat’s location faster.
Collars Embedded with the Owner’s Information
Personalized collars are an inexpensive way to provide safety for a pet. As long as a dog or cat is wearing its collar, anyone who may find the pet can return them to the pet owner. Custom collars may include any information including:
- Name of the dog
- The pet owner’s name
- Home address
- Phone number
A pet owner can add any other information they wish; for example, if the dog has a medical condition that requires medication, the pet owner can have that information imprinted on the collar. Although a personalized collar eliminates the need to have an engraved ID tag, some owners choose to attach one to their dog’s collar.
One option pet owners prefer is to have the dog’s name and their phone number engraved on a metal plate or embroidered on the back of the collar that fits against the scruff of the dog’s neck. When the information is visible on the back of the collar it eliminates the need to hold onto the collar while attempting to see the owner’s information.
Choosing the Best Personalized Collar
There are a few considerations when shopping for the best personalized collar. Choose a collar that will fit comfortably around the dog or cat’s neck without being too tight. Collars that are 5/8 of an inch wide are suitable for puppies and small breed dogs. The smallest collars are also suitable for cats. Collars that are sturdier and at least an inch wide are better suited to large breeds.
For dogs or cats that are more comfortable with a softer collar, styles are available in:
- Designer fabric
- Padded leather
Soft collars provide extra comfort for a pet and may prevent irritations of the skin, chafing, and hair loss. Soft collars offer owners the option of personalizing with special designs or colors.
Waterproof collars are ideal for pets that love water. Among the styles that are excellent for pets that love a dip in the lake or running through puddles, are reflective, camouflage, or soft-grip collars. If the pet loves nightly walks, engraved, LED collars are perfect.
GPS Tracking Technology
Some location tracking systems have a range of approximately 50 feet. Systems like Whistle combine GPS and cellular technology and can track a pet nationwide. Alerts for locations the pet has been in can be transmitted by an app, email, or text. One of the features is for designated safe places, another tracks when the pet visits a specific location and when they were, they were in the preceding 24 hours.
Tractive is another GPS tracking system that has unlimited range, is waterproof, and lightweight. The system works best with pets that weigh more than nine pounds. Several of the GPS systems including this one, feature a virtual fence. The owner is notified if the pet leaves the area.
These two systems give the pet owner an idea of what’s available so they can make the best decision for their pet and lifestyle. There are a lot of systems on the market that feature GPS technology. Some of these systems work well with cats and/or dogs.
If picking a GPS, purchase one that’s specific for the pet’s breed. There are systems for dogs or cats. They can also buy a GPS that only has the basic tracking feature or one with enhanced capabilities.
Microchips and Chip Registries
Having a pet go missing can be scary and stressful, but due to microchip technology, many pets that have gone missing return back to their families. The most significant difference between GPS technology and microchips is that microchips don’t track in real time. However, dogs and cats with microchips have a much better chance of reuniting with their families.
The main thing to remember about microchips is that the pet owner must keep the information about current with the chip registry. Some pet owners invest in a GPS in addition to the microchip.
Locating Lost Pets Using A Microchip
It’s essential to have a pet registered with a microchip registry when they have a chip implanted. Each microchip manufacturer has its own registry, but a pet owner can also register with a national registry. If a pet is missing, a pet owner can call the registry with a number to find out if their pet’s microchip has been scanned. When a pet’s chip is scanned, all the information needed to locate the owner is available.
Some shelters microchip pets when they’re adopted. If a pet owner’s cat or dog is missing, they can contact the shelter to let them know they want their dog or cat back. Remember that microchips aren’t real-time GPS systems.
Lost cats or dogs that visit a veterinarian or shelter can have their microchip scanned to get the pet’s ID number if there is a chip. The owner’s information is immediately available. Sometimes chips and scanners aren’t compatible, which is why universal scanners are becoming more widely used.
A veterinarian can implant a microchip during a regular office visit. Anesthesia isn’t usually required. However, during a spay or neuter surgery a veterinarian can install the chip. The chip is inserted between the shoulder blades of a cat or dog. A vet should always do the procedure because issues can arise if it’s inserted incorrectly. A veterinarian knows how to install the chip so a scanner can read it.
Registering Your Dog or Cat
A veterinarian will provide the pet owner with an activation card that has a unique ID number. The pet owner will get a phone call to complete the registration, but some registries may allow to you to complete the process online. The registration information includes the name of the owner, contact information, and name and breed of the cat or dog. Additional information that the registry requires may be the pet’s age, color, and whether it’s been spayed or neutered.
Did learning about how to track your pet with technology interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.
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