Tech tool allows owners to fetch pets
July 5, 2011
By Jessica Johansson
Pets become part of a family and whether it’s a cat or dog, owners like to make sure their pets are safe and cared for. PetHub is making that possible through a little tag that can be put on a pet’s collar.
PetHub, based in Issaquah, sells pet ID tags that use special coding to reconnect lost pets with their owners, with two-dimensional barcodes engraved on them. Through the use of a smart phone, the barcode can be scanned and linked to the pet’s webpage on PetHub.com. Pet owners create profiles for their animals and modify what they want to be seen if their pet’s tag is scanned.
The company is approaching 10,000 tags out the door in just over two months of being launched, with most being sold, some donated and some given away for testing purposes.
The latter provided some good feedback for the company.
Most customers have been in the Seattle area, and PetHub is now expanding nationwide. The tags are $9, plus a $3 shipping fee.
“We even had a woman find two dogs running on the freeway that she picked up — one had our tag on it, and that’s what helped her get the animal back home. It was a great story to hear,” said Tom Arnold, president and founder of PetHub.
The ID tag has a human-readable web address on it as well as the scannable barcode, so people without smart phones can use the Internet to find out to whom the lost animal belongs.
“I just got my tag in the mail and decided to try it out. We scanned it with my husband’s phone and my Princess’ information came right up,” a customer wrote on PetHub.com’s feedback page. “It was amazing and so easy to use. God forbid she ever gets loose, but if she did, I feel better knowing how easy it was for me to get her information, and hopefully somebody else, as well. Thanks, PetHub!”
Having the tag allows people to skip the process of taking an animal to a shelter or a veterinarian’s office, and makes the owners’ information available much more quickly. A pet’s profile can be updated online, with information such as the pet’s medications, current vaccinations, licenses and important past medical information. PetHub also allows the user to control how people contact them when a pet goes missing, and it’s all easily done on the Internet.
“Our message about our goal of getting pets home faster is resonating with people. We humans have the technology to make it easier to re-unite lost animals with their owners and PetHub.com is determined to finish the job,” Arnold said.
“It’s been really awesome to see people’s reactions when I show them the tags and to know that we are using cool, new technology to help them and their animals,” said Lorien Clemens, PetHub’s manager of customer support and outreach.
PetHub was a sponsor of the Seattle Animal Shelter’s “Furry 5k” on June 12. The company gave away 1,500 tags at the event. Also in June, the MTV Film Awards were held and PetHub was asked to provide 75 celebrities with tags for their “goodie bags.” Some businesses have expressed interest in partnering with PetHub, including pet insurance companies and dog collar manufacturers.
“I’m excited about some of the programs we’re launching. We’re reaching out nationwide to pet shelters to offer them our tags at cost in some cases, and in other cases completely for free,” Arnold said. “The common feedback we get from shelters is that they like that they can enter data about their adoptable animals, and then transfer that digital record to the new pet owner so that they have a solid start with all of the details about those animals.”
There are many advantages to the pet tag, including the “Contact Pet Owner” button option. This protects privacy while allowing the pet owner to be directly notified. Everything goes through PetHub.com so that the pet owner’s email address is protected, but the owner is easily reached when their lost pet is found.
“To place the scannable pet ID tag on the animals to ensure their safety is simply icing on the cake,” Arnold said. “We’re also going to be reaching out to people who act as foster parents for animals so that as an animal is cared for they have the records from the shelter and even previous foster homes that they reference and add to.
“The whole goal is to make it easy for everyone to contribute to an animal’s ‘digital pawprint.’”
Jessica Johansson is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.