In case a name and phone number on Fido's dog tag aren't enough to bring him home from his wanderings, a new tag from online pet community PetHub includes a Fido-centric URL that is scannable by smartphone.
One side of the laser-etched tag displays a human-readable Web link to information on your pet. The other shows a two-dimensional QR bar code that can be scanned by any iPhone or Android phone with the free code-scanning software NeoReader installed.
When scanned, the code automatically navigates a browser to PetHub to display an animal's information.
By default, PetHub shows only the name and photo of a pet, but you can add any information you want (the name of your pet's doggie day care, vet, necessary medications, or details on his love for expensive leather shoes).
Other digital dog tags also lean on technology to get pets home, of course. The dime-size KoogaPet can store information transferred from the computer through its USB connection. The Pet Tag Flasher flashes four red LEDs to help identify a pet's whereabouts in a crowd.
One cool feature of the PetHub Link ID tags is that if your furry friend gets lost, you can immediately log in to your PetHub account to modify the information displayed when the link on the tag comes up. This could come in handy, for example, if you're out of town and entrusting your animal to a pet sitter.
To be sure, it would be easy enough to create a Web site for Sparkles and have the URL printed on a tag, but it's nice that PetHub makes the whole process easier. The company is careful to emphasize that its ID tags aren't meant to replace microchips safely implanted under a pet's skin. But there are advantages here.
During the company's beta test, it's giving away 1,000 PetHub Link ID tags for free, along with free data storage. Once the beta ends in February, PetHub plans to charge a nominal fee for any new tags ordered, while data storage will remain gratis.