Philly-area shelter taps facial recognition app to reunite lost pets with owners

John McDevitt
July 22, 2020 - 2:55 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Facial recognition technology isn’t just for humans anymore.

The Brandywine Valley SPCA is the first animal shelter in the Philadelphia region to take advantage of the software to help reunite lost pets with their owners.

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The shelter partnered with the app Finding Rover to identify lost cats and dogs that are brought into their care.

“It’s pretty sophisticated technology, as far as looking for the nuances in facial recognition,” said BVSPCA spokesperson Linda Torelli. “It’s similar technology that might be used in security systems and things like that to identify individual attributes.”

Owners are encouraged to upload a photo of their pet to Finding Rover’s national database now, while they are safe at home, in the event of a potential emergency. The service is free.

Then, when the missing pet is in a shelter’s care, like the BVSPCA, “we take photos as soon as a lost pet enters our shelter system,” Torelli explained. “That matchup between the photos happens automatically using Finding Rover.”

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BVSPCA also helps reunite pets with their owners through microchips and social media.

“We have a 37% reunite rate,” Torelli said. The national average reunite rate is 17.4%.

“We want to find every possible tool that we can to help families.”