Using facial recognition technology for a ‘paws-itive’ match

Posted at 10:47 AM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 12:47:18-04

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    MULTNOMAH COUNTY, OR (KPTV) — Multnomah County Animal Services hopes a new partnership with a facial recognition technology platform will lead to more “paws-itive” outcomes when it comes to reuniting lost pets with their owners.

The shelter started a pilot program with Finding Rover in October, and officially launched it in July.

The app and website allow users to post photos of lost pets to potentially find matches posted by other users and shelters.

“We’re just adding another tool to our toolbox in addition to licensing and microchipping your pet, to make sure people have all the tools at their disposal to find their lost pets,” said shelter Development and Communications Coordinator Jay LeVitre. “Every single animal that comes in as a stray – in our database – is automatically pushed out to Finding Rover service.”

In a demonstration, LeVitre showed FOX 12 how the app works on shelter cat “Arizona.” LeVitre snapped a photo of the cat and uploaded it into the app. After filling out some information and setting his search location, the software matched Arizona to her official shelter photo on the app.

Pet owners are also encouraged to preemptively post a profile of their pet on Finding Rover in case their furry friend ever goes missing.

“When there’s a clear photo and the animal is facing forward the technology works very well,” LeVitre said. “If for some reason the photos are too dissimilar you can also use some more traditional search methods such as geography, or the age of your pet, or sex, or where they were lost or found.”

Another plus – much like other social media platforms – Finding Rover allows those who find pets to contact owners directly, meaning animals wouldn’t have to go to a shelter to have their microchips scanned or wait there to be reunited.

“This would kind of be a shortcut if somebody who found your pet is also on Finding Rover and they uploaded a photo of your pet,” LeVitre said.

The shelter said it doesn’t have any success stories yet related to the app, but officials believe it’s only a matter of time.

“We’re really happy to be able to provide this new revolutionary technology for the folks of Multnomah County,” LeVitre said.

Finding Rover users can also upload a photo of a pet to find adoptable animals that look similar.

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