REGION — Thanks to a new app, San Diego County officials are using their smart phones to locate that one-of-a-kind smile and adorable eyes. No, they’re not using the workday to look for a date on Tinder.
San Diego County Animal Services is utilizing a new facial recognition app to identify lost dogs and reunite them with their owners.
“You have a lot of animals that do come into animal shelter and we just don’t know who they belong to,” said Dan DeSousa, deputy director of County Animal Services.
The free app, called Finding Rover, uses facial recognition technology to match photos of lost dogs with those found or admitted to a County shelter.
Pet owners are encouraged to take pictures of their furry friend’s faces, and upload the photos and owner information to the app.
If the dog is lost, County officials or anyone else who finds the animal can then take a photo and the app will compare the image with its database of local pooches and their owners.
If a match is found, County Animal Services officials can take the dog home directly instead of to the shelter.
Skipping a trip to the shelter saves the county money that would otherwise be used to feed and shelter the lost dog until the owner comes to find their pet and also keeps cages available for other animals.
Plus, shelters are not the ideal place for dogs and can be a stressful experience for pets, DeSousa added.
The app, which County Animal Services started using for free on May 15, is a new tool for finding lost dogs aside from ID tags, licenses and microchips.
He explained that the app could be especially useful during emergencies like the recent fires throughout the county.
Animal Services rescued more than 50 animals, including 18 dogs, during the fires a couple weeks ago.
So far the county has not been able to make any matches of lost dogs with the app.
DeSousa emphasized the need for community members to upload information about their dogs for the app to reach its full potential to identify lost animals.
“If this app prevents one animal from coming into a shelter, then it is well worth it,” he said.
An app to identify lost cats is expected to be available by August.