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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

GPS for dogs?

Steeler will go with anyone for a car ride!

With Steeler’s recent escape in which he headed down a dark highway on his own, Peter suggested we get him microchipped.

“He is!” I stated, “I had it done when he was neutered the second day we got him back.”

But microchipping does have its problems. For one thing, they are as small as a grain of rice and have been known to fall out of the dog, so it is important to have the sensor run over the dog every now and then during a vet visit to make sure it is still there. Also, if you have a change of address or phone number or if you transferred the dog to a new owner be sure to update that as well. Outdated information will surely find the dog in a pound and all that effort and money would be down the tubes!

The good news is that a study has been done and since microchipping started, the rate of returned cats increased to 20 times higher and the return of dogs via the microchip was 2 ½ times higher. So this lower rate of return in dogs could just mean that people are more likely to put some sort of ID tags on dogs whereas they may not put these tags on cats, possibly because in most states it’s the law for dogs.   Its not a bad idea for cats to be licensed and kept on a leash like dogs are. Sad really, because when you think about it, there are harnesses and leashes for pet rabbits and ferrets, so why not walk your cat? After all, cats are very smart and can be easily trained. I like to think I had the smartest cat ever. Cookie, who was with me until the age of 16 or 17 years old never crossed the street. He (yes, Cookie was a he, long story) would walk with you to the end of the driveway then sit down and watch you cross the street. This is why it made it so unbelievable to me that while my parents were walking up to the grocery store they found Cookie dead in the road and tearfully brought him home to bury him. Once buried, they went back to the store to get their groceries and upon their return home, they saw Cookie sitting on the porch. Whose cat they buried I don’t know!

Ah, but I digress, Peter was not talking about the normal microchip that we know of, he was talking about having Steeler outfitted with a GPS system so we could find him when he got loose. Yes this really does exist! Does this phrase sound familiar to you parents? “Don’t forget to shut the gate!” And while understandably this statement has to be said to younger kids, I am sorry to say that this statement also has to carry over to your children long past elementary school, it has to be said right through to the college age!

The dog GPS is not a bad idea, but like anything else electronic, it’s only as good as the battery that’s in it, but after seeing a special clip on Good Morning America on how the AKC is reporting an increase in dogs that are being stolen, it does make sense to somehow GPS our pets. GMA did a demonstration to show how easy it was to steal a dog. They of course set up a person to play a thief and one to play the part of the dog owner. It was incredible how easy it was for the thief to open a car door and take the dog out in front of John Q public even as he was telling the people mingling nearby that the dog was pretty and  how he thought he’d like to take it!

You can see the article and video on the site below (you’ll have to click on the video separately). I had a hard time believing people were that stupid, but, well you’ll see, anything is plausible!

 click here for  video

I would like to see some type of GPS that is implanted in the dog just as the microchip is, or a chip so small that can be imbedded into a collar or harness so a thief would not realize it was there. Once word gets out that people are putting a GPS system on their dog’s collar I suspect the thief would rather steal and resell the GPS collar which is much easier and more profitable than caring for a dog the rest of its life!

I guess we have a ways to go on something like that to be sure that there are no ill effects on the dog’s health. The thought is good and we’re heading down the right path and I would be all for it as long as the well being of the dog was preserved.

 pet trackers can be found here.

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