Pearl River County SPCA to use face recognition system for pets

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Currently, every pet that is adopted from the Pearl River County SPCA is tagged with a microchip so it can be returned to its owner if it is lost.

But there is a potential snag with that system, said PRC SPCA Director Judy Wheaton. If the pet owner changes their phone number or moves from their current home and forgets to update the database by alerting shelter staff, the shelter will have no way of alerting the family that their beloved pet has been found.

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To establish a backup system in case that does happen, the shelter staff decided to participate in a web-based service called Finding Rover. It works through facial recognition technology that utilizes a photo of the pet.

According to the website, pet owners can register their pet by taking a photo of it and uploading it to the website when it’s adopted. Alternately, the website can also help people find a lost pet, or help someone find the owner of a lost pet. In all three instances, all the person has to do is take a photo and upload it to the site.

Wheaton said she heard about the service at a recent convention. Now, the shelter’s staff is not only tagging adoptable dogs and cats with microchips, but also registering them on Finding Rover as well.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” Wheaton said.

Even though the site is called Finding Rover, the face recognition technology also works for cats.

After uploading a photo of the pet, the website provides a list of potential matches.

Wheaton said the staff has also started using the website to promote pets that are available for adoption.