‘Rover’ uses pets’ faces to find them
With the click of “bark button,” a lost pet can be on its way home again.
The button is a feature of the free app offered by Finding Rover, a nonprofit that uses facial-recognition technology to identify lost dogs and cats. The button opens a smart phone’s camera and emits the sound of a dog whining, which catches the pet’s attention, usually resulting in a nice full-face photo.
If the phone’s geo-locator is on, Finding Rover does the rest, uploading the image to its network, which partners with shelters across the country.
The latest partner is the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency, which on Tuesday went live with Finding Rover. Every dog in the shelter now is in the nationwide database, Executive Director Annette Patton said.
John Polimeno, CEO and founder of Pleasanton-based Finding Rover, was in Modesto on Wednesday morning to officially kick off its Stanislaus connection. Four years ago, he began his operation, which is free and sponsored by the Petco Foundation.
Polimeno worked with University of Utah scientists for about a year to develop facial-recognition algorithms that can identify a dog or cat with 98 percent accuracy, he said.
Letting finders of lost pets easily upload images is just half the Finding Rover story. The other is registering pets and shelter animals to protect them upfront.
Every dog and cat that leaves the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency, through a reunion or an adoption, can remain protected on Finding Rover. All the “pet parent” has to do is register on Finding Rover with the same email address the shelter has on file.
“If that dog or cat ever gets lost, their record will already be in the system, and identifying that pet will be a snap,” says a news release from the shelter and Finding Rover.
Registration of a pet is as simple as 1, 2, 3, according to Finding Rover. Just go to www.findingrover.com and:
- Upload your pet’s photo.
- Enter a few details about your pet.
- Enter your name, email address and ZIP code.
His organization has reunited about 5,000 lost pets with their owners, Polimeno said, and has more than 500,000 animals registered. The database is growing steadily — maybe a few hundred additions on a slow day, a few thousand on a busy day — and he anticipates hitting the 1 million mark by the end of the year.
Finding Rover is about more than recovering lost pets, its founder says. The facial recognition also is a great tool for those looking to adopt a dog or cat.
Maybe would-be pet parents don’t know dog breeds or mixes, but know what they like when they see it. They take a picture of a dog they like, or simply upload an image from the Internet, and Finding Rover will look for close matches at shelters within a 200-mile radius.
Patton said anyone can view Stanislaus Animal Services Agency found and adoptable pets with just a click on its Finding Rover Facebook widget at www.facebook.com/StanislausAnimalServicesAgency and on its website widget at www.stanislausanimalservices.com.
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