New app uses facial recognition for dogs to find lost pets

SEATTLE - There's facial recognition for humans, so why not dogs? One man thinks it will make lost pets easier to find.

"Finding Rover" is an app that's been out for six weeks. For it to work, a lot of people have to use it.

Every year, upwards to 7 million animals nationwide enter animal shelters, and only 10 percent make it back to their owners.

John Polimeno wants to change that with an app called Finding Rover that uses facial recognition.

First you enter the facts about your dog.

"The reason we fill out the dog's age is because if it's a puppy, your dog changes every 90 days," Polimeno says. "We ask you to take a picture of your dog until they are 18 months old."

Now if Sparky is ever lost, call up Sparky's profile, enter the location where he was lost, and if someone else finds him, and uses the Finding Rover app to take his picture, the app's facial recognition will make the connection.

But that technology is not easy to perfect.

"When I first came up with the idea three years ago I went to five companies around the world that specialize in facial recognition for people, and I got the same answer from all of them - dogs are much more difficult than people," says Polimeno.

But he sold his construction business and funded two scientists to make facial recognition work for dogs.

"So you know how hard it is to get dogs to look at cameras, so we invented a bark button," he says.

Every time you take a picture, the little bark button makes your pooch look.

KOMO asked Amanda Walde from the Seattle Humane Society to take a look.

"We always recommend that pet owners microchip and tag your pets, but this is a great secondary resource for pet owners to be reunited with their pets," she says.

For it to work, Finding Rover will need a lot of dogs in its database - that's why Finding Rover will always be free.

Any kind of facial recognition is hard to do - its not a perfect science. And the app is only available for the iPhone and iPad right now.

They say they have 20,000 sign-ups and have found 170 dogs in six weeks.