New Facial Recognition Technology helps find lost pets

New Zealand is now home to one of the most sophisticated and intelligent systems in the world to find your lost pet.

‘PiP’ Facial Recognition, as it is known, will revolutionise the way we reunite lost pets with their families according to the New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC). The Council is the owner of the New Zealand Companion Animal Register (NZCAR), which has now added this highly advanced facial recognition system to the existing New Zealand Companion Animal Register services. “Combined with the New Zealand Companion Animal Register microchip database and Scanner Angel smart network ‘PiP’ Facial Recognition will add another dimension to helping find lost animals” says the NZCAC Manager, Dr Jessica Walker.

‘PiP’ Facial Recognition uses cutting-edge technology so anyone can take the image of a pet they find and upload it to the New Zealand Companion Animal Register. This image is then compared against hundreds of thousands of images to identify the animal in a few minutes. Members of the public can upload images of found animals by phone app, expanding the lost and found network into the public arena.

Dr. Jessica Walker says “these exciting advancements in technology will work alongside traditional microchipping to maximise the number of lost pets that are reunited with their owners in New Zealand.”

In addition to providing New Zealand’s largest microchipping database for companion animals, the New Zealand Companion Animal Register has developed a second website called This new site gathers together all the FREE lost pet services into one easy to access location with the goal of reuniting lost pets with their owners as fast as possible. This site has already merged with Pets on the Net and includes automatic notification to Neighbourly users. is a FREE one-stop service where lost and found animals can be reported at no cost to the user. It also provides an interactive map showing a live account of lost and found pets within New Zealand.

New Zealand Companion Animal Register Manager, Nygllhuw Morris says “The NZCAR is extremely pleased to partner with SPCA New Zealand, the New Zealand Institute of Animal Management, Pets on the Net, and Neighbourly, so we can all work together” He added that “More partners will be added as more organisations sign up to use”

The New Zealand Companion Animal Council would like to take this opportunity to remind animal owners that while and 'PiP' Facial Recognition are exciting initiatives, they do not replace the need for microchipping. Microchipping is the only form of permanent identification for companion animals and ensuring your animals are microchipped and registered with the New Zealand Companion Animal Register is still the most reliable way for owners to be contact when their animal is lost.

For more information please visit For more information about microchipping and to register your animal’s microchip with the New Zealand Companion Animal Register, visit or for the NZCAR 'PiP' Facial Recognition package, please visit


For more information contact:
Dr Jessica Walker – Manager, New Zealand Companion Animal Council
Mobile: 021 555 285

About the New Zealand Companion Animal Council
The New Zealand Companion Animal Council is a national not-for-profit organisation that lobbies and advocates on behalf of companion animals. The NZCAC working to encourage New Zealand to become a nation that values, respects and responsibly cares for companion animals.

The New Zealand Companion Animal Council is funded via profits raised from the New Zealand Companion Animal Register.

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Virbac Change Policy On Replacing Microchips

Last week Virbac announced a program to replace all faulty Virbac chips regardless of whether they were still working. Yesterday (25 January 2018) they have changed the policy and will now only replace faulty chips that have failed.

Virbac did not consult with the NZCAR on this change in policy and we are disappointed with this decision. Not replacing chips that are proving to have a high failure rate has the potential to put the welfare of New Zealand pets at risk.

Pet owners with a Virbac chip now face having to get their chips checked on a more frequent basis. Also when their pet goes missing, pet owners may well have the unnecessary stress of worrying if the chip has failed since their last check.

With this change in policy, the NZCAR now makes the following recommendations to owners:

  • If your animal is to be microchipped and registered, consult with your vet or implanter over what brand of chip they recommend before implantation.
  • If your pet is already implanted with a Virbac faulty chip that is working we strongly recommend you look to get your pet rechipped at your next vet visit.
  • If your pet is already implanted with a Virbac faulty chip that is working and you prefer not to get your pet rechipped again, we recommend 6 monthly chip checks to ensure the chip is still working.

The NZCAR has the ability to store up to 3 chip numbers against every animals record and we feel it is better to have two working chips than one failed one.

The NZCAR are committed to supporting New Zealand pets and we will do our utmost to help vet clinics and pet owners with the situation that has arisen.

For further information on this release or to seek information, please contact the NZCAR Manager, Nygllhuw Morris on 0800 LOSTPET (567873)

Emergency Preparedness for Your Pet

Disaster strikes when you least expect, so it’s important to be prepared.

Fotolia 135282176 XSAfter recent earthquakes here in New Zealand and natural disasters abroad, many people are beginning to realise the importance of creating an emergency plan ahead of time. This plan should include not only family members, but also pets.

Natural disasters are just as dangerous for our four-legged friends as they are for us. Almost three-quarters of New Zealand families own a pet, and as pet owners, it’s our responsibility to make sure that our pets are safe in the event of a flood, fire, or earthquake. Here are some tips to help you prepare yourself and your pet for the unexpected.

Have an Emergency Plan in Place

An emergency plan ensures that if a natural disaster is heading your way, you can safely evacuate as soon as possible. It’s best to plan to bring your pets with you in an emergency such as an earthquake. Leaving them at home can be dangerous, and you may not be able to return to feed them in a timely manner. Nearby animal shelters will likely be closed or overfilled.

You should draw up an emergency plan that the entire family agrees upon, and make sure to practice evacuation drills on a regular basis. This way, every member of the family knows their role when packing up and leaving the area, including pets.

Keep Your Dog Fit

Much like the importance of keeping fit for people, it’s also essential that your dog is exercised all year-round so that he or she would be in peak condition to deal with whatever disaster may strike. Although it may be tempting to stay indoors when the weather is bad in New Zealand, that’s no reason to stop your dog from being active. There are plenty of ways to keep your dog fit indoors, from seeking treats to playing hide and seek with you.

Prepare a Pet Survival Kit

You should have kits stored in your home that will make it easier to pack up and go in the event of an emergency. Your pet should also have its own get-away bag that includes:

  • A carrier or lead for transportation
  • Lead or rope
  • Veterinary records, microchip details and photographs of your animals
  • Extra blankets and bedding
  • Bottled water, food, and bowls
  • Plastic bags and gloves for waste
  • A collar with an ID tag that includes name, address, and telephone number
  • Medications and prescriptions
  • A first aid kit
  • A list of pet-friendly shelters
  • Familiar toys
  • Cleaning supplies

This kit can double as a survival kit if you get stuck at home without water or power. You should keep it stored in the garage and check on a regular basis to ensure that food and medications haven’t passed their expiry date.

Get Your Dog Microchipped

Even if your dog has a collar or an ID tag, you should still microchip your pet in case this tag gets lost or torn off. Microchipping allows you to locate a missing pet easily. If your pet is found by animal control or by a civilian, the chip can be scanned to bring up the address on file. Implanting a microchip is relatively inexpensive and will help to give you peace of mind if your pet goes missing during an emergency.

If your home is in the path of a fire, flood, earthquake, or another natural disaster, you may find you and your pet’s health at risk. You can keep your four-legged friends safe by keeping yourself prepared for any emergency.

Other Links to Read

Thanks to Lucy Diamond at for preparing this article for the NZCAR

NZVA Press Release - Virbac Replacement Programme

12 Jan 2018 - NZVA Press Release

Click here to read the New Zealand Veterinary Association comments on the replacement of chips announced by Virbac.


Press Release: 10 Jan 2018
For more details or to ask questions, email:

Virbac have announced a replacement program for one version of their microchips called Bio-Tec. They are recommending that a replacement chip be inserted. This potentially affects around 15,000 animals. While this is a large number, in the context of New Zealand’s 1.8 million cats and dogs, and the over 580,000 NZCAR microchipped and registered pets, it is not as big an issue as some people have suggested.

More importantly it is Virbac who have initiated this replacement programme as they are concerned these 15,000 affected chips MAY fail. The NZCAR commend Virbac for being proactive and tackling this issue sensibly, rather than ignoring it and putting animals at risk. We support the idea that it is better to have two working microchips rather than one microchip that is not working.

The important message though is a failed chip does NOT mean a pet will be automatically euthanised if trapped. No Council in New Zealand is advocating this action and it is disappointing that people are using this chip issue to worry pet owners with this scaremongering

The other important aspect is that lost pets can still be found and got back home even if the chip has failed. The NZCAR not only offers its microchip database for lost and found pets, but also now offers a facial recognition service (see This highly advanced system can take the image of any found pet and compare it against hundreds of thousands of images within a few minutes. The system is also designed so that if it does not find an exact match it can also display close matches allowing the NZCAR team to ensure that all possibilities are checked.

The NZCAR also offers our free services when an unchipped animal is located. This free network creates a listing that can be searched, it geocodes the lostpet details onto a map so all lost and found animals in an area can be viewed and it also notifies Neighbourly users in the locality too.

The NZCAR will continue to work with Virbac to ensure that the affected owners can be contacted, and we will continue to ensure that accurate information about microchipping and Councils is circulated.

Microchipping Works!!

Following the 2011 Quake, the NZCAR handled over 25,000 phone calls and faxes in a 12 week period. We also placed over 800 adverts for lost and found pets. Of the unregistered pets we got 25% home within 3 days. Of the microchipped and registered pets we got 85% home within 3 hours of being found.

A microchipped and registered pet is still over three times more likely to get home than an unregistered pet. While a small number of chips MAY fail in the future this does not reduce the value of having your pet chipped and registered on the NZCAR.