Did you lose your dog? There's an app for that

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - If your dog jumps the fence or runs away from home, there's an app for that.

New products on the market can pair with your smart phone to let you know your dog is missing before they even run away.

During the winter months, your dog is three times more likely to run away, especially if they're kept outside in the cold.

Dogs often lose their ability to track scents in the cold, because ice and snow can mask those scents, which contributes to more dogs going missing. The decreased daylight doesn't help either.

Your dog probably has an ID tag, maybe even a microchip, but this new technology uses Bluetooth and a smart phone application to track your dog.

Once he or she runs 200 feet away, you and your network of friends will hear about it.

"Puppy" is a tracker that turns a pet owner's network of contacts into a virtual search party to find your furry friend. Once the dog ventures away, Bluetooth will automatically "ping" the phones of your friends and family listed within your contacts.

Each contact member must give their approval before receiving alerts.

The "Puppy" device launches in February and will cost pet owners $29.99 plus shipping.

Is it worth it? Vets and animal shelter directors tell us while it sounds cool, don't spend your money just yet. Other devices can be just as effective.

Deb Bauman with Wayside Waifs suggests looking into GPS dog trackers, which allow you to keep tabs on your dog for miles. The downside is they tend to be pricey.

Microchips, which are embedded under your pet's skin, are another good option. Vet offices and animal shelters have scanners allowing anyone who finds your pet to take them in, have them scanned, and returned to you. Getting a microchip will cost pet owners around $20.

Yet, the instant notification of the new "Puppy" system is a bonus, according to Wayside Waifs shelter staff.

"Dogs can run for miles and get very far from their owners before they realize it, so this kind of device would help nip that in the bud," Bauman said.

Wayside Waifs took in 1,500 run away dogs in 2013. While most were reunited with their owner, some are still at the shelter.

With new technology, are those lost pet signs going to be a thing of the past? 

"I don't think there is any wrong or out-of-date way to find a lost pet," Bauman said. "If I lost my dog I would use any means necessary to be reunited. Posters, contacting every vet in your area, contacting every shelter in your area but especially the one in the town where you live because most likely that's where they are."
 

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