KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Posting flyers on lamp posts and trees to find a lost pet may be a thing of the past. A new cellphone app called Positive Identification of a Pet (PiP) issues alerts for missing pets and is generating a lot of buzz at local animal shelters.
"I've had a lot of people ask if I think they should use it, if I would recommend it," said Alexandra Heule, a lost and found pet coordinator with the KC Pet Project.
The PiP app uses facial recognition technology to find a missing pet. The owner can upload a picture and description of their pet. When the pet goes missing, an owner can activate a PiP alert. The alert is sent out to veterinarians and local animal shelters. The alert will trigger PiP technology to watch social media outlets for postings of pets that have been found. It uses a facial recognition system to find a positive match to a found pet in the database.
But Heule has some concerns about the abilities of the technology.
"If they're mixed breeds they could have Labrador mix and it might just bring up a bunch of Labradors. Unless you're providing the color of the dog altered or unaltered, it’s not really going to help too much," she said.
Heule also has concerns that the app isn’t available to Android users, limiting the range of the app.
Philip Rooyakkers, CEO and Founder of PiP, says the company is in the process of making the app available to Android users. He addressed concerns that the company is using the term "AMBER alert" for missing pets.
"We do not want to disrespect the initial use of the term AMBER alert, but people are so attached to their pets and I do think it’s important that people realize the emotional connection between people and their pets."
While the app is free to download, there is an annual fee to register a pet.