Image: Pet Widget

 

Reality check – 90 per cent of lost pets that don’t have identification never get reunited with their owners. And even for those with ID, tracing an owner can be hard work. Physical dog tags can go out of date, while a microchipped animal has to be taken to a vet to be scanned, before the vet can contact the authorities for its owner’s details.

If it sounds primitive, that’s because it is – but in a time when there’s an app for literally every situation you can dream up, Singapore-based app Pet Widget has a way around these problems.

Founded by Ivan Loh, it’s a two-part solution: Pet Widget, an online community of pet owners, and Badge, a physical tag with a QR code that when scanned, indicates the details of both the pet and the owner (who in turn gets a notification and alert that his pet has been scanned).

 

Losing his dogs was the catalyst

Image: Ivan Loh

Being a pet owner himself, Ivan has thought of everything that might be needed to recall a lost animal. It’s something deeply personal to him: He was overseas when he got a phone call informing him that his two Labradors had run out of an open gate in his home, and were nowhere to be found. “I flew back the next day and went everywhere looking for them,” he recounts. “I was yelling their names like a mad person, and putting up posters. I thought I had lost them forever.”

Two weeks later, the dogs were eventually found, but that incident had a lasting impact on Ivan, and that was the start of Pet Widget. Since then, it’s gone global – there are now 4,000 users on the app, and the Badge is now sold in countries including Australia and the United States. It’s also won Best New Dog Product at AusPet 2017 in Sydney.  

 

How does it work?

Image: Pet Widget

The Badge might look like a traditional ID tag, but its QR code contains a wealth of information when scanned with a smart phone. If you find a lost pet, the Badge will prompt you to call the owner, and display details like the animal’s allergies. It also has GPS logging technologies, so the owner can see the last scanned location.

Once you set it up, that’s all there is to it – you don’t have to pay subscription fees and there's no battery to charge.

The Pet Widget app was created with a tangential purpose: for pet owners to interact, ask each other questions, and browse pet related listings. Ivan hopes that his invention will not only find lost animals, but part of the bigger picture is to tackle the problem of abandoned pets.

 

It does so much more than find lost animals

Image: Pet Widget

 

The two main reasons that animals are in a shelter is because their owners give them up, or they are found on the streets. With a cyber community offering guidance and to answer questions, the aim is for owners to assert a greater responsibility and get people talking about pet care.

The app is also an avenue for shelters to post notifications on adoptions. Next year, with each Badge purchased on Kickstarter, Pet Widget will give a Badge to an animal in a shelter, so it can be adopted with identification.   

 

The Badge retails at $29.95. For more information, visit http://petwidget.com/.