During a recent survey of over 1,000 households in the United States, the ASPCA discovered a number of interesting things about lost pets in the country. While it’s true that only about 15 percent of pet guardians said they lost a dog or cat in the last five years, lost pets in general are still an incredibly serious problem. Only about 17 to 30 percent of lost dogs are ever recovered by their owners, versus a depressing 2 to 5 percent for cats.
Most interestingly, a significant portion of the animals that were found were reunited with their owners because they were sporting identification tags, microchips or both.

But thanks to the rate at which technology continues to advance, these numbers have a chance of improving significantly over the next few years alone. Case in point: A new technology called Tractive allows you to track your pet’s location at all times using a 3G-based GPS connection. This type of real-time visibility into the status of your furry little friend will go a long way toward making sure you’re never separated again.

Tractive: What You Need to Know

The Tractive GPS Pet Tracker is a tiny, state-of-the-art and (most importantly) lightweight device that clips directly onto the collar of any dog or cat. The beauty of this product is in its simplicity — it contains a small GPS chip that is always connected to a 3G cellular connection, similar to the one that your smartphone is probably using right now. Thanks to this, it allows you to instantly check on the whereabouts of the Tractive device — along with the pet it is attached to.

If you want to check on the location of your pet at any point, all you have to do is upload the free Tractive app to your iOS or Android device. The map that appears on-screen will instantly show you right where your pet is, down to a range of just a few meters.

What really makes Tractive impressive, however, is the fact that it has the ability to transmit the coordinates of a pet back to the owner with the press of a button. If your pet does happen to get out of the house or if the Tractive device becomes disabled for whatever reason, this will give you actionable information from which to start.

Using the Tractive app, pet owners can also create what is called a virtual “safe zone.” If your pet wanders outside of the specified area, you will instantly get a push notification on your phone. Say you define your property as the “safe zone” and your dog happens to run off down the street — the moment the animal crosses that boundary you will know about it, no exceptions.

In situations where pets wander off and become lost, time is of the essence and this will go a long way toward making sure that you become aware of the problem as quickly as possible.

Finally, Tractive also keeps historical records of your pet’s activities so that you can see what they’ve been doing for the last 24 hours. You can see exactly where they’ve been to help identify trends and patterns that may be useful moving forward. The device will also automatically alert you when the internal battery starts to run low, allowing you to avoid a lapse in coverage.

Right now, Tractive works in over 80 countries around the world with more being added all the time. It just recently launched in the United States and new units are available to order for $70. Note that it does require a $5 monthly subscription fee to it use on an ongoing basis, but when you consider the peace of mind you get from knowing that your pet is safe and sound at all times, this really isn’t a significant expense at all.