FurAlert helping Gloucester Township pet owners and residents find lost pets quickly

The app is similar to an Amber Alert, but for pets. It enables pet owners and residents to help each other find lost pets quickly, even if they don’t know each other.

Photo provided by FurAlert

If you ask people how important their pets are to them, there’s a good chance they would tell you they are like a member of the family.

So imagine losing your pet and not having any idea where it ran off. Contacting the police and local animal shelters would be the first step to try and locate it, but the response might not be as quick as one hopes.

A similar situation happened to Cory Donovan. While his dogs were running around in the backyard of his Haddon Heights home, a gate was left open and his dogs got out.

“I found myself frantically searching for my dogs, worrying with every minute that went by that they were getting run over by a car,” recalled Donovan. “As I passed people sitting in their porch or casually walking, I thought they would probably help me if they knew I was looking for my dogs, but instead they were just going about their day/business. That’s when I thought about an Amber Alert for pets.”

Shortly after the distressing situation with his dogs, Donovan created FurAlert — a free app you can download on your iPhone or Android.

FurAlert enables pet owners and residents to help each other quickly in an emergency, even if they don’t know each other. Donovan said it’s all about proximity.

“If you’re not nearby, you don’t need to get an alert. But if you happen to be nearby when a pet goes missing, you are a valuable resource for a panicked pet owner,” explained Donovan. “FurAlert also gives you the ability to contact the pet owner, even if you cannot or will not approach the animal. This is valuable in many scenarios because if you can’t physically engage the animal, the tag on their collar is of little use. But FurAlert allows you to contact the owner once you see the animal to alert the owner where the animal is at the time.”

Donovan launched this app in January and Gloucester Township introduced this app to its community in June in hopes of enhancing the police response for families getting their pets back quicker and putting less stress on the police department and local animal shelters.

Gloucester Township Mayor Dave Mayer said it’s been positively received in the community since it was implemented and some of the police officers have the app on their phones, but it doesn’t replace calls the police department gets about missing animals.

“This program is not to replace anything but to enhance our response,” he said. “With any animal, time is important because they will carry about and may get further away from their home. The quicker we can get that information out through the app only enhances our police response.”

Gloucester Township Chief of Police Harry Earle and Lieutenant Brendan Barton embraced the idea as something that could help the community and the police department.

“Everyone loves their pets so we figured it would catch on quickly,” Barton said. “It’s a good tool to give a pet owner a head start if they ever lose their pet. It is a stressful time and it helps get us useful information.”

Donovan said the first few minutes of a pet getting loose are the most crucial.

“Once a pet gets loose, time and distance are the enemy,” explained Donovan. “With that premise, your best resource are other people that happen to nearby, simply because they have eyes and because of their proximity. The goal is to retrieve the animal safely before they have a chance to put themselves in harm’s way or before they cover enough distance to compromise any search efforts.”

Donovan said FurAlert is currently in 50 states and urges every pet owner to download the app.

“Don’t wait until something happens to your pet,” he urged. “If everyone does that, there’s no FurAlert community to help anyone.”