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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Lost dog or cat? Spokane residents can now use facial recognition to find them

March 2, 2020 Updated Mon., March 2, 2020 at 7:52 p.m.

A black female cat sits in a cage at SCRAPS last year. SCRAPS has partnered with Finding Rover to offer facial recognition services to help owners find their lost pets. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
A black female cat sits in a cage at SCRAPS last year. SCRAPS has partnered with Finding Rover to offer facial recognition services to help owners find their lost pets. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Pet owners looking for a missing dog or cat can now use facial recognition in their search.

SCRAPS announced Monday a partnership with the app Finding Rover, which uses facial recognition and an online database to locate lost animals. SpokAnimal and the Spokane Humane Society also have partnered with the app and all three shelters have uploaded photos of adoptable animals to the site.

Lindsey Soffes, executive director of SCRAPS, said the shelter is using the software to create a searchable database for both adoptable and lost pets. She said people looking to adopt a certain type of animal, a breed they have always liked or an animal that looks similar to one they once had, can also upload a photo of what they are looking for in the database, and all shelter animals that are similar will show up.

“We were searching for this partnership to help lost animals find their way home, but this is an added benefit for people looking to adopt,” she said.

She said the app is also free to users, and did not charge Spokane County for its service.

Pet owners only need to upload a photo of their dog or cat and add a few facts about them, such as the animal’s sex, birthdate, breed and whether it has been vaccinated or microchipped. If the animal is lost, users can create lost posters and post an award. They can also use their animal’s photo to browse photos of animals that shelters and individuals have uploaded as “found.”

The site’s facial recognition currently appears to be equipped to identify photos of cats and dogs. Photos of other animals uploaded to the site Monday were not recognized as different species.

Soffes encouraged anyone who finds an animal that isn’t theirs, or has lost an animal, to add their information to the database.

“Like so many things, the more people who use it, the more effective it is,” she said.

While using the app is free, Finding Rover’s privacy policy does allow the app to share users’ information with third parties which can be used for marketing purposes. Instructions on the site allow users to opt out of that feature.

Soffes said other shelters that have already partnered with Finding Rover have seen higher numbers of people reclaiming their animals.

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