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They provide comfort and companionship, but when disaster strikes, will your beloved pets be safe?

Many of us consider our pets to be a part of the family, and losing them can be devastating. Unfortunately, during natural disasters many pets are separated from their owners,  and despite an owner’s efforts to locate their animals using social media posts or flyers, the chances of them reuniting with their lost pets are low.

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According to USAtoday.com, computer scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder want to change that by introducing an online tool that can help people find their lost pets called EmergencyPetMatcher.

The website, which will be called www.emergencypetmatcher.com when it is active, will be launched during the next disaster.

Anyone can go online to create reports of lost and found pets as well as suggest matches between the pictures of lost and found pets. So, for example, if you are on the website and see your friend’s missing dog listed on the site, you can suggest a match between the dog and your friend. From there the suggested matches can be voted “up” or “down” by users. This voting system is an effort to ensures that no one is claiming an animal that is not theirs.

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When a photo match gets enough “up” votes, an email will be sent to all the people that posted both the lost and found photos, recommending they contact each other.

Joanne White, a doctoral student at CU-Boulder’s Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society (ATLAS) says reuniting owners and pets during a natural disaster can help them endure some of the psychological pain that occurs during a tragedy.

Organizers are also working on a tool to digitally check in animals brought to shelters and evacuation centers

According to USA Today, the creators of EmergencyPetMatcher hope their site can become a “one-stop” place where people of lost pets can go.




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