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Tracking lost pets using social networking

May 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Pets are considered part of the family these days, and when they are lost or missing it can be devastating. Recent statistics show the numbers are increasing by huge amounts. But owners are getting more help to find them, especially with high-tech connections.

When "Crimson" found a way through her electric fence recently and stayed gone for days, owner Andi Sims was beside herself.

"It's such a hopeless and helpless feeling," said Sims. "You want to do something, but you don't know what to do."

What she did was distribute flyers offering a reward and visit nearby veterinarians' offices. Then she took her search to social media.

"I posted it on Facebook. I posted it on Craigslist. I posted that we had lost our dog on Twitter," said Sims.

A friend who saw her post about the missing dog saw another post about one that was found and connected the dots.

That's just one of many ways pets are being reunited with owners after going missing, an increasingly common trend according to the American Kennel Club.

"In 2010 we tracked 255 pet thefts," said Lisa Peterson, spokesperson for the American Kennel Club. "Compare that to last year, in 2011, we tracked 432 pet thefts, so there was an increase of nearly 70 percent."

And those are just the cases they tracked through media and online reports.

According to Petfinder.com, more than 2 million pets disappeared last year. And fewer than 10 percent made their way back home.

Pet expert Charlotte Reed claims companies are hoping to change that by bringing high-tech options to animal owners.

Take the Tagg Pet Tracker GPS system, for example.

"It's attached to your pet's collar and it will you track your pet in real time," said Reed.

You'll get a text or email when your dog or cat leaves the zone you set up, and you'll see exactly where your pet is as long as the collar is still on.

There's also a collar that uses Quick Response Codes to tell others about your animal. You just register your pet online, then order an ID tag which can be read with a regular QR Code app.

"So if someone has the phone app they can scan the tag and find out all about your pet," said Reed. "Also there's Amber Alerts for pets where you can actually upload all your data, pay a fee and they'll do all of the legwork for you."

No matter what, don't give up hope.

"In the last year or so we've seen pets who have returned home after eight years, 12 years," said Reed.

It's important to note the Tagg system has an ongoing monthly fee to keep the GPS system active.

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