A dog lover has invented a gadget that can track a missing dog by treating its nose like a fingerprint.
Smart Snout is the brainchild of 44-year-old Bradley Watson, who came up with the idea after watching a detective show on television.
He saw agents use fingerprint technology to nab crooks and realized the same idea could be applied to pooches.
It is believed that every dog’s nose has a pattern that, when paired with the shape of their nasal openings, is distinctive enough to identify them.
Smart Snout backers say owners can now benefit from this discovery and have created an app that uses the technology.
They say this new frontier in pet safety will eclipse microchipping – which is currently a legal requirement in the UK.
The app is free to download but costs £4.99 per year if you want to register your dog’s details.
Paying customers are asked to enter basic information such as name, breed, and color, as well as upload a photo of the nose. Then, once that information is entered, if it were to be lost or stolen and then retrieved, the finder could simply scan the muzzle, Bradley claims.
At this point, the owner and finder will be alerted to the dog’s identity – coming together to bring the dog home safely.
Smart Snout only launched properly eight weeks ago, but already has more than 2,000 subscribers — with even more downloads, Bradley said. The company is also trying to convince police forces across the country to support it in an effort to further deter criminals.
Bradley, from Bramford, Suffolk, said: “We’re doing really well – we’ve just applied to go to Dragon’s Den!
“The reviews are absolutely amazing. It’s – in theory, at the moment – an unbeatable system.
“It’s working really well, and we’re hoping, if we can get enough bodies on board. There’s no way to beat it, unlike the chip – which is just cut out.
“I have watched the growth of dog thefts and witnessed it firsthand with customers.
“I always tried to find a way – like I said, I was just watching the police interceptors. They did a roadside scan of a fingerprint suspect.” can’t we do this with dogs?’.
“From the start of life to death, a dog’s biometrics on its nose don’t change – that’s where [the idea] came from.
“I then contacted a few investors and started working with an applications team in London, and it’s working like a charm.”
Bradley, a lifelong dog trainer, estimates around £15,000 has been spent on the app so far. It’s free to download, but costs just under £5 a year to submit your dog’s details – which are needed to find them.
Explaining how it works, Bradley said: “It’s so simple. You download the app and enter your basic information: email address, dog’s name, color, age.
“Then this is the magic part. You have two photos. One is a facial recognition system.
“And the second photo is the photo of the dog’s muzzle. If you zoom in – phones are so good now – you get this biometric fingerprint.
“Once you’ve done that, if you just leave your status as ‘OK’ on the app, anyone who walks past your dog and takes a photo – no details will be found.
“But if you change your status to missing…if I take a picture of a dog I found on the street, it’ll say, ‘Congratulations, you found a dog.’
“And it will also tell the owner: this is an instant data notification. Then you can communicate via email.
“Unlike a chip, which you can cut out – that’s just not possible with our system. You should cut the dog’s nose clean. And no one will.”
Smart Snout received financial backing from businessman James Khan, 43, after pitching the idea. And Bradley has also teamed up with a former police officer who is good at catching missing dogs.
Phil James, 45, left the rescue “quite a while ago” but, for 18 months, he has been finding missing dogs with his drone.
He said: “My day job is to fly drones. But, in my spare time, I find people’s missing dogs in Nottingham.
“Last year, I found 49 and participated in more than 200 searches. Thanks to this, I gained quite a large number of followers on Facebook.
“People have gotten to know me and any dog that goes missing in Nottingham, they call me.
“I saw Smart Snout on Facebook. I contacted Bradley and James – thought it was an amazing idea.
“I loved it – I love the concept. My main goal is to get rid of the microchip. People find it quite intrusive.
“Since Covid, dog thefts have increased, and [the thieves] started cutting out the microchips.
“Smart Snout is a bit of a breakthrough. You can’t cut a dog’s nose. I’ve been spreading the word across the East Midlands.”
Phil, from Nottingham, said he also met with Nottinghamshire Police in a bid to build a relationship, and hopes this will spread to other forces.
He added: “People trust the police. I want their crests at the top of the app. It will help with publicity.”
Visit the Smart Muzzle website here.
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