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There must be a better way to find a lost dog. It's not easy to make phone calls, posters and knock on the doors of neighbors.
But when your pet is lost, you feel bad. Until you find it.
Now there's a new way. Joanne Cox's family in California turned to a website and app. It's used by San Diego County Animal Services. It helped to reconnect them with their dog, Roxy. Roxy is a Shiba inu.
The website is called FindingRover.com. It keeps photos from the county shelters. It tries to match eight facial markers on dogs. Eyes and noses are important areas. Eye size and their position near the snout make a difference.
The creator of the website is John Polimeno. He wants to expand the photo database to help more dogs be found.
The website is the only one that uses facial recognition for dogs. But other online tools can be used to find lost pets. They include alarm systems, social media alerts and apps that post rewards or call people.
Plus, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has its own mobile app for recovering pets. It offers tips on the best ways to search. And it allows users to create a digital flier to share online.
Facial recognition worked for the Cox family. Roxy bolted during a thunderstorm in July. Five days later, the family's 10-year-old daughter created a free Finding Rover account. It matched her photo to one taken at the shelter. It was Roxy.
Every dog that enters San Diego County's three shelters is added to the photo database. Daniel deSousa, the system's deputy director, says the program can work two ways:
Someone finds a dog, takes its picture and sends it to the database. A match creates a notice to the owner. The owner then can arrange a pickup.
Dogs in to the shelters have their photos run against the database. If there's a match, the owner gets a call.