Anniston native Brian Harmon, 27, last month opened PetQR, which manufactures smart pet tags that can potentially reunite owners with their lost pets easier and quicker. Each tag can be scanned by any smartphone, sending the user to a website that lists all the pet owner's contact information and the animal's care instructions. There are no subscriptions to maintain the websites and the pet owner can update the profile at any time.
Harmon, who is co-founder of the company and has two sales associates, said the tags were under development for more than a year before they were brought to the market last month. At the company’s website, the tags sell for $12.99.
"I came up with the idea for a smarter pet tag because the traditional tag that my dog had just wasn't good enough for me," Harmon said. "I didn't like the fact that if someone found my dog, they'd only get one number to try to reach me at."
Harmon said he wanted anyone who found his dog, Smoky, to be able to call his parents, sister and neighbor and know the animal's temperament and dietary restrictions.
"It was also important to me that if I had to go out of town and I had a caretaker come over, they would know how to keep my dog as comfortable as I do when I am home," Harmon said.
According to a study produced last year by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the recovery of lost pets in the United States is rare. The study showed that between 10 percent and 30 percent of dogs submitted to shelters are recovered by their owners. For cat owners, recovery from shelters is less than 5 percent.
Nick Kaufman, president of the League of Animal Welfare in Anniston, a nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter, said his facility receives a steady stream of animals without owners. Last year the facility adopted out 99 cats and 67 dogs.
"The majority of what we get in are people who bring in animals they found," Kaufman said.
Kaufman said having a better way to identify pets, such as the smart tag, might help reduce the number of animals brought to the shelter.
"You'd probably see a quicker home return," he said.
PetQR tags are available at multiple veterinarian clinics in the area and the Rabbit Hutch on Noble Street. The tags are also sold at various retail locations in Birmingham, and at PetQR’s website, http://www.thepetqr.com.
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.