Animal shelter uses facial recognition app to reunite pets with families

Indiana shelter using facial recognition technology to reunite lost pets with families

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WAVE) - The New Albany Floyd County Animal Shelter is partnering with an app and website to help families find their lost pets.

“We hope it will really help to reunite animals with their owners,” Marilee Snider, the shelter’s adoption coordinator, said.

Cat and dog owners can use the app for free. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Cat and dog owners can use the app for free. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

The app, Finding Rover, uses facial recognition technology to identify lost cats and dogs.

“Most return pet to owner situations are very happy and exciting. Facebook and social media in general has greatly increased the return to owner numbers,” Snider said. “And so we hope that this will be even more exciting because they match your pet with facial recognition and lead them here to us.”

Every dog or cat that is at the New Albany Floyd County Animal Shelter will be registered into the Finding Rover system.

“The more people that use it, the more success it will have," Snider said. "And it has so much potential to get animals back in their rightful home.”

Finding Rover started at the end of 2012. Founder John Polimeno said he got the idea for the app after seeing a lost dog poster in a coffee shop. It reminded him of when his family lost their dog, Harley, for a few days. That’s when the idea sparked that there should be some type of facial recognition for animals.

Polimeno teamed up with the University of Utah to create algorithms that could identify a dog or cat. It took about a year to develop the software.

Finding Rover works with over 600 shelters in the U.S. and has over 700,000 pets in its database.

“By partnering with shelters, we’re tied to their database," Polimeno said. "So on an hourly basis, any animal that comes into a shelter is on Finding Rover.”

The app searches for animals within a 200 mile radius.

Polimeno said they use about 138 markers around the face to identify matches. The company has reunited 18,000 pets with their families so far.

“This technology, you don’t have to put the animal in a car and drive it somewhere to see if it’s chipped. All you have to do is take a picture,” Polimeno said. “You don’t have to own one to save one.”

The app is simple to use. People can take a photo or upload a photo of their dog or cat to register their pets for free. The app only asks for a photo of the pet, its owner’s email and zip code.

“If they find one, post it. If they lost one, post it," Snider said. "The more we can get the information out there, the more it’s used, so the better it will be and the more success it will have.”

For more information on Finding Rover, click or tap here.

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