Years ago, TV stations in the U.S. used to include this public service announcement during their late evening newscasts at either 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.: "Do you know where your children are?"
Today, if your dog or cat is out past its bedtime, you can use pet wearable technology to find out exactly where it is.
Most dogs and cats are "chipped"
Adopt a dog or a cat from most humane societies, and it will come already "chipped". The chip is an RFID tag that is inserted under the pet's skin. A Radio Frequency Identification microchip is a type of Passive Integrated Transponder that can be read by veterinarians, animal shelters, animal control workers, and by anyone who has an RFID scanner.
The scanner can pull a number off the chip, and by consulting a database, that number will identify the pet, its owner, and even its immunization record. Additional data stored in the database can include your pet's medical history, any medical procedures it has had, and other vital information such as whether the pet is diabetic.
In a case described on the PetNuity website, when a diabetic dog got out of his yard and was scooped up by animal control, staff at the local humane society were not only able to locate the dog's owner, they were also able to give the dog the insulin he so desperately needed.
Lost dogs and cats often slip their collars, and the RFID chip eliminates the need for a collar. In cats, this can be a life saver by preventing accidental hanging.
GPS collars allow you to track Fifi or Fido with an app on your smartphone. If you've always wondered what your inside/outside cat gets up to while outside, now you can see. If you happen to live in San Mateo, California, you can see if items you are missing ended up in the house of "Klepto Cat" Dusty.
Pet GPS trackers include the Whistle 3 ($79.95 whistle.com, Amazon) which clips on to any collar that is more than an inch wide. Its associated smartphone app allows you to observe your pet's location anywhere in the U.S. in real time, and you can set up a "geo-fenced area" and be alerted if your pet steps out of that area. There is a monthly subscription fee of $6.96 to $9.95.
The Invoxia Pet Tracker ($99 invoxia.com, Amazon) is a smart collar with GPS location and personalized security zones. It doesn't need a SIM card or data plan, and weighs only 15 grams. It's also IPX7 water-resistant, so while rain is all right, a full Labrador swim might not be. The Invoxia Tracker works in France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
The Link AKC ($149 linkakc.com, Amazon) is a stylish collar that lets you to set up safe zones and alerts you if your buddy leaves those zones. The Link AKC will also alert you if the temperature gets too hot or too cold, and it even has built-in LED lights for night walks. It has a monthly subscription fee of $6.95 to $9.95.
Bark collars have become a popular way of keeping dogs from constantly barking. When they detect the sound of barking or even the vibration in a dog's neck caused by barking, they can administer a mild electic shock, an irritating noise, or even the scent of citronella, which dogs apparently don't like.
The TabCat by Loc8tor (From $99.99, tabcat.com, Amazon) doesn't use GPS to locate your cat, but instead comes with an RF (radio frequency) receiver. The receiver beeps and creates a visual display when you are within 400 feet of your cat. The device also allows you to send a signal to your cat when you want it to return home. As someone who is owned by an inside/outside cat, all I've got to say is, "Good luck with that."