I remember when I was a child, my first dog was named Fred. I don’t know how or why we named a dog Fred, but I was five and it made sense then. I was a big fan of Fred Flintstone and Fred Sanford so one of those probably influenced me.
Anyway, one day we took Fred over to a friend’s house because they had a pool. Fred went missing. We looked for him for days through the neighborhood, but we never found him.
Three months later, our friend’s called us and said “You aren’t going to believe this but Fred came walking up the driveway this morning like nothing ever happened.”
We have the ability to locate our lost or stolen iPhones using the built-in GPS location, so why not use this type of technology to locate lost pets?
While that technology didn’t even exist at that time, it sure would have been nice to have a GPS locator on ole Fred. That little joker took a mini vacation away from us.
There are several types of devices on the market that include GPS trackers so I will attempt to address the pros and cons of each.
GPS Collar that Use GPS Monitoring
If you are looking for a way to monitor your pet’s location, there are devices that attach to your dog’s collar which you can monitor using GPS on your smartphone.
These collars fit over your pet’s existing collar and even monitor their physical activity and estimate calories burned.
To set up the system, you place the tagger on your dog’s collar, then specify a home area for the animal within the app. If the animal leaves that area, you will receive an alert on your phone.
This type of external device has its limitations if you are concerned about pet theft. To render the system useless, a thief would only need to remove the external collar.
So if that is the case, what is it good for?
Well, if you are concerned that your pet might get loose outside of your home or fenced in area (remember Fred?), this type of device would be beneficial in tracking them down in your neighborhood. And there are other devices that can be attached to the backpacks of children or in the cars of young drivers, so there are many uses for these types of devices.
Here are some of the best options available on the market.
Tagg Pet Tracker
Cost: Initial cost is $99 with a monthly service fee of $7.95.
Here is a pet tracker that you can get from Verizon Wireless if you use that one for your carrier.
This device clips to an existing collar around the dog’s neck and is designed to stay on all of the time. Yes, it is waterproof. The only time you will need to remove it from your pet is to charge the device on the included docking station. However, this is only necessary about once a month.
The device is connected wirelessly to the Verizon network and tracked on your smartphone or through a regular browser on a laptop of desktop computer so you can see your pet’s location any time you want.
This system watches over your pet within the virtual fence or zone you set up with the GPS coordinates. If the animal goes outside that area, you will receive a text alert and an email. Then you can locate your pet using your smart phone app.
Things to be aware of
The Tagg system does not cover all parts of the country so be sure to go to their website to see if your area is included.
Also, if the device is kept away from the base station for long periods of time, the battery life will suffer causing you to remove it and charge it more frequently.
Lastly, the minimum Tagg Zone that you can set is 4 acres, so if you live in an urban setting with a lot of buildings, you might find this system useless if you were trying to locate a lost pet.
If the thought of paying a monthly service charge does not sit well with you, then the next device might interest you.
Amazon Price: $59.95 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 19, 2016)
RoamEO Pet Monitor System
Cost: $179, no monthly service charge
One key difference between this device and the other pet collars is that it does not require a cell phone data plan nor does it have a monthly subscription.
While it functions much the same way as the others listed, it does have some drawbacks.
The GPS unit is located in a rubber collar that attaches to your dog and it communicates with a handheld unit. There is no smart phone app for this device nor can you monitor the activity on a browser on your computer.
The handset updates continuously with distance and direction of your pet. This collar is larger in size that the Pet Tracker and is best suited for medium to larger dogs.
Things to be aware of
While the device costs nothing to monitor, the range is limited to about a half of a mile and even that depends on the amount of hills and trees in the area.
The device has 2 rechargeable batteries that only lasts about 24 hours and must be recharged separately.
PocketFinder GPS for Pets and People
Cost: $129.95 plus a $12.95 monthly monitoring fee.
If you are looking for something for a pet, a child or any member of your family, one of the devices from PocketFinder might have the answer.
Once the device is charged, you simply give it to a family member, or attach it to a pet. It works the same way as the Pet Tracker using GPS that allows you to see the location on a map of anyone of anything carrying the device. It provides real-time alerts via text message and email and works via a standard browser or mobile app on iOS or Android.
The PocketFinder can be used to monitor the speed of drivers in the car it is attached to, or can alert you when the person carrying the device arrives home from school when you set up a geographic home or school zone within the software.
Things to be aware of
The battery will need to be recharged every 5 days at least, but possibly every day, depending on how frequently it is used to send messages or alerts. However, it does provide options to tweak the battery life by adjusting setting within the device.
My story with Fred had a happy ending, but most lost pets do not. Whenever I see a sign
It’s those times where you think that you should have done this or that, much like if your car got stolen, you would be kicking yourself for not having Lojack installed so the Police could locate it easily.
A GPS tracker can bring peace of mine for parents as well as pet owners. Depending on your needs, you can monitor the whereabouts of your pet or child, making sure they arrived at school or at home ok.
Last summer, a stray cat started hanging around so I took him in. Initially I let him roam around, but he got into some trouble so I had to start keeping him on the screened porch. I still let him out sometimes early in the morning, but I am considering getting one of these pet locators to keep track of him.
If you are concerned about a speeding teen driver, a GPS tracker can alert you to their speed history at any given time so you can have a talk with them when they get home.
Overall, these devices are a great idea if you have an active pet that tries to run out of the house or fenced in yard every chance they get, like Fred.
Amazon Price: $219.95 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 19, 2016)