A growing number of pet owners are turning to high tech collars to keep track of their furry friends.
What’s unique about the new Animo $150 GPS tracker is that it provides location, activity and behavior monitoring. All with no monthly fee.
It seemed too good to be true, so I enlisted the help of Los Angeles area pet owner Jennifer Maslar to test it out.
Her 6-year-old rescue Pedro is everything to her.
“Pedro is like a son and he comes to work with me every day,” said Maslar.
She’s been looking for a way to keep track of him, which is why she was eager to test out this new device, which clips on to an existing collar.
“He doesn’t always respond when I call his name so it’s good to have some kind of ability to track him,” said Maslar.
She’s researched various tracking methods, but they all have their pros and cons.
Airtags are small, inexpensive and the battery lasts over a year, but they provide limited real time tracking. They rely on a nearby Apple device – whether yours or a stranger’s – to update their location.
When it comes to microchips, you have to hope that someone else finds your pet and brings it in to scan it.
The Animo GPS tracker clips on to your pet’s collar and can alert you in seconds if your pet leaves it’s safe zone. Like many GPS pet trackers, it primarily relies on a combination of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth but can fall back to cellular when your pet leaves it’s primary area.
This helps to preserve battery life and can also provide exact location tracking in near real time.
The device also functions as sort of a Fitbit for your pet, keeping stats on sleep, barking, scratching, and shaking. It will even send you a notification when it detects a notable change in behavior.
The device is made by Merck Animal Health, a division of the pharmaceutical company that shares the Merck name.
“I thought that it was really big for such a small dog,” said Maslar.
She’s right. When we checked, we noticed that Animo recommends the tracker for dogs 14 pounds and up.
Maslar liked how easy it is to clip on and off to charge the battery. The connector still uses the Micro-USB standard, I would have liked to see a more modern USB-C connector.
And about that battery life? Animo says you can get up to 12 weeks, but that’s under ideal conditions and when you’re mostly connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. If you’re mostly using cellular data, battery life could drop to just a few days.
Overall, Maslar liked the comfort of real time tracking but didn’t like the large size and limited battery life.
“I think it’s good for somebody that has a big yard and the dog has free range,” said Maslar.
Still, she believes pet tracking devices will continue to become more popular.
“You have control over learning where your dog is… and if they are lost… I think we’ll be seeing a lot less lost dog signs… for sure,” concluded Maslar.