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A Runaway Dog Prompted The Creation of This New Smartphone App
Photo: Philly.com / Michael Bryant

If your dog has ever run away, you understand the terror and fear that the Cory Donovan felt more than four years ago. The event was so trumatic that he can even remember what day of the week it occurred – a Tuesday. That was the day he let his dogs out to use the bathroom and they didn’t return when he called for them.

You see, Donavan had just gotten home from work and, of course, letting his pets outside was always his first priority when he got home. Unfortunately, on this day someone had left the gate of his fenced in yard open. Because the fence provides a peace of mind that Donovan had gotten used to, he never checked and his dogs were ablet to escape.

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A Runaway Dog Prompted The Creation of This New Smartphone App
Photo: FurAlert

Lula and Raven, doverman mixes, weren’t in the yard when their owner went to retrieve them. One dog was found in less than an hour, but it took more than one full day to find the other. After the worry had settled and both his beloved canine companions were home safe and sound, Donovan saw an opportunity that most pet owners wouldn’t have.

He’s developed an app that acts as a type of Amber Alert for missing pets. Called FurAlert, the iPhone version launched back in October, and the Android version was just released in January. The app focuses on one basic principle: time and distance are the enemy when a pet is missing.

The idea behind the app is that the people located in your immediate area will be the best help in finding your missing dog. Of course, that also means that the app’s success will vary greatly depending on the number of people who actively use it. Basically, if your dog is missing you report it on the app and hope that someone in your area will spot your pooch and report it.

The app is free to download and use. Users upload a picture of their dog and some basic information about him including age, sex, weight, personality traits and whether or not he is microchipped. They can also choose to offer a reward to the person who finds their pet.

A Runaway Dog Prompted The Creation of This New Smartphone App
Photo: FurAlert

When someone else sees the alert it will also be accompanied by a map showing where the missing animal was last seen. They’ll also have access to contact information for the pet’s owner including their phone number, whether or not it’s okay to send a text message and the owner’s email address. The default radius for any missing pet is 2 miles, and anyone FurAlert user within that radius will receive an alert about the missing animal.

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The challenge to getting an app like this off the ground is creating a user base. For example, I live in rural Maine. The app won’t help me find my missing dog if I’m the only one in a 50 mile radius that uses it. Of course, it will probably take off in urban areas first, but users may also advacate for the app in their local area and get a small group of users gathered near their home.

If you live in a small neighborhood or community, you could use an app like this to your benefit (and the benefit of all the other pet parents around you). Think of it like a neighborhood watch group for pet owners. If you consult with some of the other pet parents in your community, you could all join the app and work together to keep the pets in your area safe.