Clay County introduces facial recognition to help locate missing pets

Clay County introduces facial recognition to help locate missing pets
Clay County to introduce facial recognition to help find lost pets

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — The technology used to track down criminals is being used to return lost pets in their owners in Clay County.

Lisa Blount told Action News Jax her dogs Emma, Bella, and Ellie are part of the family so seeing missing pet posters breaks her heart.

“Devastating, it’s like losing a child. Not knowing where they are or who has them would be horrible,” she said.

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This month, Clay County introduced a new program, called Finding Rover, to reunite lost dogs and cats with their owners.

“You can snap a picture on your smartphone or you can upload a picture on your laptop to their database and it’s an instant search through facial recognition software,” Clay County public information officer Annaleasa Winter said.

The program is similar to the technology investigators use to catch criminals.

It takes in 130 scan points including an animal’s fur color, snout length and eye spacing.

The search stretches a 300-mile radius and is 98% accurate, according to Winter.

“If we can get those family pets reunited as quickly as possible, then we’re saving tax dollars and we’re also saving room for animals who really do need the care,” Winter said.

Other local shelters, like the Jacksonville Humane Society and some in Nassau County, already use the software.

Winter said it’s especially important for pet owners in Florida.

“During hurricanes or tropical storms, a lot of animals get separated from their families because they get startled, they get scared people are evacuating, so that’s a time when the shelter will typically fill up,” she said.

Winter said she hopes the program will make reunions happen more often.

“I’m actually very involved in lost and found pages. It would help us tremendously. I’m looking forward to using it,” Blount said.

The app can also be used to search for adoptable pets.

Every cat and dog taken in at Clay County Animal Services is entered into the database, which updates every 2 hours.