By Kathy Chouteau
Did you know that one in three pets will become lost during their lifetime? This staggering statistic, provided by PetHub, is one impetus behind the company’s partnership with Contra Costa Animal Services that provides pet parents with digital ID tags when they license their pets.
Upon licensing their four legged friends, pet parents receive a PetHub ID tag with Contra Costa Animal Services’ logo on the front and a QR code on the back with a web address that, when scanned with a smartphone, links to a free online profile that pet parents can fill out/activate. There’s also a phone number for a Call Center that’s staffed by people 24/7 “to help facilitate a lost pet getting home,” said PetHub CEO and Co-Founder Lorien Clemens.
“On that profile, they can have unlimited emergency contacts,” said Clemens. “They can have medical information, vaccine information [and] they can list safe spots where their pet can be taken to if they get lost,” she added about the QR-coded ID tags. “I personally have five different phone numbers and six places listed as safe spots,” she said, noting that one of them is her veterinarian.
She said the digital ID tags are replacing traditional stamped metal tags used in the past by animal service organizations. “Basically, it’s the idea of an ID tag but it’s kind of on steroids,” joked Clemens, who said that the aforementioned features are “free when you purchase your pet license from Contra Costa Animal Services.”
Pet parents wanting to go next-level with their furball’s ID tag can upgrade to PetHub’s paid service to access additional features. This includes GPS mapping when the pet’s tag is scanned, an Amber Alert-style system that notifies shelters and safe spots in a 50 mile radius when a pet is lost and discounts on industry products/services like food, telehealth, etc.
“The cool thing about the premium service that [pet parents] can upgrade to is that it’s completely optional,” said Clemens. “They don’t have to do it, but if they do, we share 10 percent of our profits with shelters in the community.” PetHub offers a variety of payment options for its premium service, which can be checked out here.
She also underscored that the company is “very serious about privacy of data; you choose level of privacy that you want.”
According to PetHub, its tech and modern pet ID tools have made a significant impact on the Return to Owner (RTO) rate nationwide by returning 96 percent of animals found via ID tags in under 24 hours. “We’re keeping pets out of the shelters,” said Clemens, resulting in huge financial savings for municipalities and shelter operators, per company info.
So have PetHub’s QR-coded ID tags rendered pet microchips obsolete? Not so fast, per Clemens, who said that, ideally, the company hopes you’ll use their ID tag in unison with a microchip.
When lost pets are microchipped they have to go to the shelter to get scanned by a special tool and then be processed into it. PetHub’s ID tags allow pets to “get home immediately,” Clemens said. The company also relayed that microchips can make it more tedious for pet owners to keep their contact info current as compared to PetHub’s system.
While the company believes that pets should have a physical ID tag on at all times, they also recognize that collars can “fall off,” so microchips are a good backup, said Clemens. “Our ultimate goal is that a pet never has to go back to the shelter for any reason,” she said.
Again, PetHub’s QR-coded ID tags are included as part of a pet’s required licensing at Contra Costa County Animal Services; however, they can also be purchased here.