A lost pet? There’s an app for that

Those who have ever lost a pet know a missing four-legged family member can cause great heartache. But now, there\'s an app to help owners reunite with lost pets. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON – Those who have ever lost a pet know a missing four-legged family member can cause great heartache. But now, there’s an app for that.

It’s called PIP, and it stands for Positive Identification of Pet. The new app uses pet facial recognition technology to match a photo of your lost pet with a photo of a pet that was found.

“Like humans, every pet’s face is different. And there are different visible patterns on each pet’s face. So whether that pattern’s within the nose, within the eyes, it is a rather highly advanced technology that is used,” says Philip Rooyakkers, chief executive officer and founder of PIP.

Rooyakkers recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise the money they need to launch the app. Here’s how the app works:

Pet owners register with PIP and supply their contact information. They also provide the pet’s breed, age, size and gender, as well any of the pet’s unique features, such as a white paw or a blue eye.

Owners then upload photos of their pets to the system, which is free to download and costs about $1.49 per month to use.

If your pet ever goes missing, PIP alerts local animal control and rescue agencies, veterinarians and social media outlets with a pet AMBER Alert.

“Microchip is quite an old technology,” Rooyakkers says. “There are four different standards that are used in the microchip industry. So although you have a microchip in your pet, that doesn’t mean that whoever finds the pet – a clinic or an agency – would actually be able to read that particular chip.”

Those who find stray pets can also use PIP to help the animal find its owner by signing into the app and uploading a picture of the found animal.

If the uploaded image fits with the owner’s photo, the owner is contacted and a happy reunion soon follows.

“We have to start making a change in how we identify our pets,” Rooyakkers says. “It’s sad that we’re still euthanizing almost 2.5 million pets a year just because we can’t identify who the rightful owner is.”

More about PIP and how it works to reunite lost pets with their owners:

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