What’s new in lost pet recovery?

Check out the latest news in lost pet recovery including a new scam, a new use for security cameras, and new microchip technology.

Greetings pet lovers!

Things are always changing in the world of missing pets. Here are three updates that will help you in your lost pet recovery efforts.

New scam

There’s no shortage of heartless scammers out there looking for any opportunity to part folks from their money. Sadly the owners of lost pets are one of their targets.

In this new scam, the scammer sees your poster or online listing of a missing pet. They text you claiming to have found the pet. You’re so excited you’ll do anything to get him or her back! But wait, the scammer wants you to send a Google verification code to prove you’re really the owner. Huh?

What’s the catch? First, as we’ve discussed in Myths and Scams in Lost Pet Recovery and other materials, any time a “finder” starts looking for money or making other demands prior to returning your pet, something is not right.

Second, by complying with this request to verify a code via text, you unwittingly give the scammer permission to clone your phone number and use it to con others. Ever get those spam calls that seem to come from a local number, but they aren’t really? This is one of the ways they get those numbers.

This Omaha woman nearly fell victim to the scam. Fortunately she smelled a rat and, despite being distraught both at the loss of her dog and the recent death of her father, instead of complying with the scammer’s demands she called the authorities.

Use caution when dealing with anyone who claims to have found your pet. Always ask for proof. If they really have your pet, they can take a picture and text it to you in seconds. Never give information to someone you don’t know. Meet in a public place, and only give reward money after you have your pet back in your hands.

New tip for flyers/security cameras

Security cameras are a great tool for finding a missing pet, as are flyers given to neighbors, mail carriers, and anyone else who may help you in your search.

I was watching news clips of car theft and other crimes recently, and I noticed that the clips included video footage not just from the victim’s security camera, but from those of neighboring homes and businesses. It dawned on me that this same approach would work with a lost pet.

You can add text to your flyer (or social media posts) as in the example below. Often missing pets, especially cats, move around in the middle of the night when no one but the watchful eye of the security camera will see them. If your neighbors have video footage, that will give you proof that your pet is nearby, and at what times they are active.

New microchip technology

When microchips came out in the 90’s, we thought it was the Holy Grail and no pet would ever be lost again. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. I am excited to see some microchip companies coming up with innovative technology to make a less than perfect system work better.

Save This Life has a unique feature that can speed up a recovery. Normally, a finder must call the microchip registry and give them the chip number. An operator at the registry will search the number and come back with the owner’s information. This process varies from one registry to another, but in most cases it’s clunky and time consuming.

With the Save This Life chip, all the finder has to do is enter the number into a Google search from their phone or any other smart device. The pet owner is immediately notified and, with the finder’s permission, given the finder’s GPS coordinates.

Save This Life Microchip Registry

I like where they are going with this, but it’s not entirely practical. First, the finder needs to know the microchip number, and how will they get that number without a scanner? I’m guessing the solution is to have an ID tag on the pet’s collar with the chip number printed on it. I don’t recommend this because anyone could take the number and register it to themselves, claiming ownership of your pet.

I’d like to see a QR code tag with this same functionality. I searched online and couldn’t find anything like it. The QR tags currently available only show the owner’s contact information. Are you an entrepreneur? Here’s a product the pet market could use!

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