Franklin County Dog shelter uses facial recognition to reunite lost pets with owners

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Franklin County Dog Shelter is rolling out new technology with the hope of reuniting lost pets with their owners. 

“We have lots of dogs here everyday that go unclaimed,” said Andrew Kohn, the public information officer at the Franklin County Dog Shelter. “And we know after the fact we get calls from folks after the fact who say, ‘I didn’t know my dog was at the shelter.”

This week, the shelter announced it’s partnering with Finding Rover, a pet facial recognition website. An owner looking for a lost pet can upload a photo of the animal’s face to the website and the facial recognition technology will search a nationwide database of shelters for potential matches. By registering a pet, the user can also search the website by specific shelters.

“If you’re in Dayton or you’re in Cleveland and your dog is lost, you can upload a picture and if they’re here it’s going to say exactly where they are,” Kohn explained.

The speed and ease of use was what appealed to shelter staff. Prior to the partnership with Finding Rover, the shelter would post daily photos of new dogs on its Facebook page. Kohn said the posts were getting bogged down with unhelpful comments and staff struggled to keep up with the volume of comments and regularly post updates each day.

Finding Rover automatically updates every two hours, adding new intakes and removing dogs who have already found their homes.

“We didn’t have those capabilities and that manpower here. So, it actually lets people know when dogs actually have been reclaimed,” Kohn said.

Additionally, clerks at the shelter can immediately photograph a dog when it comes into the shelter and search the database to see if it has already been reported missing. 

“Finding Rover’s another great opportunity for our staff to have all that information centrally located, go online and see [lost] dogs from Dayton and Cleveland and all across the country and contact owners directly,” explained Kohn.

Users can also browse lost, found and adoptable animals in their area.

Columbus Humane said it’s not currently using the technology but does direct all missing dogs to the Franklin County Dog Shelter, so the community will have one source to search. Columbus Humane uses PetFBI for all stray or missing animals.

Click here and type your city in the search bar to browse lost, found and adoptable animals. You can also register your pet and upload its photo to see specific shelter listings.

See all available dogs at the Franklin County Dog Shelter here.

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