New Delhi: One great fear almost every dog parent experiences is, what if they go missing? If you live in Bengaluru and have a dog, there is a new app that promises to help you find your loved one in case that fear comes true.
The app, called ForPAWS, was launched this month, but is currently available only in the capital of Karnataka. So far, it has found one missing dog, but already has over 10,000 downloads. The team behind ForPAWS says the app is powered by machine learning and a social network of dog lovers.
“This good boy has been found by the kind folks of Kormangala Canine Squad…let’s use our networks and spread the word to get our good doggo home,” read a 23 November Facebook post from ForPAWS India about the first dog that was rescued through this app.
ForPAWS has been launched by leading pet food firm MARS Petcare, part of a global conglomerate Mars, Incorporated, the makers of popular brands like M&M’s, Snickers, Pedigree, and Whiskas.
“We are happy to share that we were able to support in uniting one pet parent with their pet via the app so far. We hope as the network grows and more people become aware, we will see more parents reuniting with their pets,” said Mohit Arora, MARS Petcare’s Global Digital Marketing Lead.
Bengaluru has a thriving community of dog parents — the proof is in the number of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp accounts set up to share information about lost and abandoned pets, and the number of ‘canine squads’ in the city to protect its pooches.
The comments about ForPAWS on Google Play Store — it is yet to get an iOS version — are encouraging, though its real-world effectiveness will only become clear as time goes on.
User Madhuri Gulhane posted a comment on Play Store, saying she found it “easy to use and very helpful for dog owners”. Another user, Parul Bansal, added: “It provides a smooth online experience and genuinely provides great help!”
How to use the app
If you’re a dog parent, you must first download the app, then create an account by adding the following details — name, email, and a picture of your pet. Multiple pets can be added on one account, so you can keep tabs of all your dogs under one account.
Parents can keep updating the pet’s photo regularly, so the app works better in identifying them as they age.
Parents can mark the status of their dog as ‘safe’ or ‘lost’. If lost, they can create a notice for the lost dog that can be circulated through the app with others. In this way, the app utilises its network of users to find missing dogs, akin to an online social network for pets.
The app finds matches for missing dogs using facial recognition enabled by machine learning modules.
Arora said a third-party research conducted on over 750 dogs including breeds, strays and Indies showed the app can identify dogs with over 90 per cent accuracy.
To further increase accuracy while the app looks for missing dogs, the feature is able to consider other markers for a specific dog, like its colouring, spots, and the location the dog was lost at.
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)