Device can track your stray pet

April 15, 2009 By Sue Stock

For owners of lost pets, the frantic search for Fido does not always end happily. Now one company is betting that even in a recession, pet owners will pay $250 for some peace of mind.

Smaller than a business card, Spotlight is a rectangular box that attaches to a dog's collar and connects with satellites and cell phone towers to provide a GPS location for the dog at all times.

If your dog strays beyond the boundaries of a "safe spot" like the yard or driveway, Spotlight sends a text message to inform you the dog is out of bounds and gives its location.

If you have a smart phone with Web access, it will also provide turn by turn directions to your dog.

The company behind Spotlight is Positioning Animals Worldwide, or PAW.

It partnered with the American Kennel Club's Companion Animal Recovery division, which will provide telephone service for owners who have lost their dogs.

Spotlight is waterproof, less than 2.5 ounces and has a bright LED light you can turn on remotely to help locate your dog at night.

Still, despite all of its high-tech features, the price tag may be a deal-breaker for some pet owners.

Customers pay $250 plus a monthly service fee. Like a cell phone plan, customers will be able to choose from a pay-as-you-go plan that starts at $4.99 a month to an unlimited plan. The price of that plan is still being set.

PAW CEO Chris Newton said he believes people will pay to keep their dogs safe.

"This started over a year ago because a bunch of people started talking about what it's like when you lose your dog," Newton said. "We're not unique in loving our dogs. Everyone loves their ."

Industry statistics say he may be right. Despite the down economy, pet spending is predicted to rise to an estimated $45.4 billion in 2009 this year, from $43.2 billion in 2008, according to the American Pet Products Association.

Most of that increase is because pet owners have ramped up services like dog walking, dog sitting and preventative veterinary care, said Bob Vetere, association president. But, the market for GPS tracking devices is only growing, he added.

"People have become increasingly attached to their pets, and in many cases, they are willing to do anything they have to do to make sure their pets are safe," Vetere said.

Spotlight developers are counting on the device's waterproof nature, long battery life and high-tech, "next generation" features to distinguish it from other GPS tracking devices on the market, said Tom Sharp, CEO for AKC Companion Animal Recovery.

Some pet owners now opt for microchips, which are embedded under a dog's skin by a vet. Each chip contains a unique number that can then be used to track down the dog's owner if the dog is found. But there is no real-time data from the microchip about the whereabouts of the dog.

"One of the most popular questions we get is, 'Is the microchip a GPS?'" Sharp said. "We have a natural customer base for this product."

When PAW begins selling Spotlight next month, it will be available on and

PAW is working to strike a deal to stock Spotlight in local stores and will also market the product directly to veterinarians.


(c) 2009, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.).
Visit The News & Observer online at
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: Lost dogs found more often than lost cats, study suggests

Related Stories

PetCell helps locate and recover lost dogs

December 28, 2005

On the Rock Creek Parkway running trail in the heart of Washington, D.C., a steady stream of joggers runs past a tabbed flier attached to a utility pole describing Peaches, a missing parakeet, and offers a reward for its ...

Researcher reveals the truth about cats and dogs

March 2, 2007

Ask most pet owners, and they will tell you they love their pets. So why is it that every year in Australia around 400,000 cats and dogs are surrendered to animal shelters or pounds?

Recommended for you

The wet road to fast and stable batteries

December 14, 2017

An international team of scientists—including several researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory—has discovered an anode battery material with superfast charging and stable operation ...

US faces moment of truth on 'net neutrality'

December 14, 2017

The acrimonious battle over "net neutrality" in America comes to a head Thursday with a US agency set to vote to roll back rules enacted two years earlier aimed at preventing a "two-speed" internet.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.