READING, Pa. — Animal shelters in Berks County are using facial recognition to help reunite lost pets with their owners more quickly.
“One in three pets goes missing in their lifetime, and if you think about it, across the country, that’s millions upon millions of pets,” said Damon March, the CEO of Reading-based Humane Pennsylvania.
“We’ve never had this tool before,” said Alexis Pagoulatos, the CEO of the Animal Rescue League of Berks County in Cumru Township, “so it’s a very exciting game-changer for all of Berks County and all of our animal-loving community.”
“If someone were to lose a pet, they would upload a picture of their pet’s face to the Petco Love Lost platform,” March explained. “When we find a pet, or when the ARL finds a pet, we will upload a picture of that found pet’s face, and the algorithm hopefully will match them up.”
Once you upload a photo and click search, it will bring up a gallery of animals that have been found near you, that look similar.
“Hopefully, it’s a match,” Pagoulatos said. “It allows people to see where their pets are now, and to connect with us and contact us so we can get them safely reunited.”
Making sure your pet has identification-like tags and microchips is still recommended; this is just an added tool that can help pets get home as soon as possible.
“Getting animals back to their families is where they belong,” Pagoulatos said. “The faster we can do that, the more space it opens up for other animals that are needier for shelters like ours.”
They’re encouraging anyone who has lost or found a pet to upload a picture on the Petco Love Lost website.