WACO, Texas — Losing a pet at any point can be scary but never getting them back home can be even worse and that's why Petco Love Lost is hoping to reunite families with their lost pets but need your help in doing so.
"There's not a central system to post lost and found pets and try to get them home and that's exactly what we're trying to create," said Chelsea Staley with Petco Love Lost. "It's a virtual telephone pole, the single, national database for lost and found pets."
Staley also said Texas, as well as other states, have a stray hold of 48 hours for dogs but there isn't a hold in place for stray cats. That means cats taken to the shelter could very well be adopted out immediately.
"In Texas, the name of the game is transport, right? Which means we are sending as many animals up North where they don't have as much animal census as they we do down here, which means if you lost your dog today or your cat today, five days from now they could be in New York City," Staley said. "So we want to have this national platform if your pet enters an animal shelter and is transferred somewhere else, you still have a fighting chance to get that pet back."
Statistically, one in three pets will go missing in their lifetime and an estimated 10 million animals go missing every year. Petco Love Lost, however, is hoping to change that by using facial recognition technology. While significant improvement in animal welfare has improved in the last decade, like lower euthanasian rates, one area she said that needs improvement is 'return to owner' numbers that have stayed the same across the board.
"So, tabby cats look alike, a lot of tabby cats look a like, right? Black cats look every much alike, right? So that's why we encourage people to upload more than one photo," Staley explained, mentioning AI technology will help because even though there are similarities, there are differences just like in humans.
"Try to search more than one photo and don't look just for that first match, make sure to look a couple of rows down just to make sure that your pet is actually on Petco Love Lost or not."
Registering your pet is easy and can be completed here. The information will be stored in a national database and in case your dog or cat goes missing and is taken to a participating shelter, you will be notified.
Staley said for so many people, their pets are their kids. This is a game-changer for not only those who find lose a pet but for those who find them.
"For a lot of people, their pets are their kids and so it just makes sense and it's sad we don't have this technology yet," she said. "If a pet goes missing, getting that pet back to its family should be a shelters number one priority and biggest critical responsibility."
For more information on Petco Love Lost, its mission, and to donate to their cause, click here.