Denso Wave, in Japan, developed Quick Response codes (QR codes) back in 1994, but now most of the world recognizes them. They are those small square barcodes found in magazine advertisements and on product labels. When a smartphone camera scans the QR Code, the phone reads the link hidden within the barcode and opens the website or informational text on the phone. That is one of the most basic uses for QR codes. There are many other uses for QR codes besides advertisements, including using them to locate a lost pet.
- "What are QR Codes? And how are they useful for outreach?" – Information on the popularity of QR codes and creative uses for them.
- 7 Things You Should Know about QR Codes (pdf) – Here you will find information on the history, future and safety of QR codes.
- What is a QR Code - Several of the most frequently asked questions about QR codes are addressed on this page.
When a pet goes missing, finding them is difficult. You must rely on friendly strangers and hope they can locate you after finding your pet. Dog tags are never large enough to fit important information and they don't guarantee the finder contacts you. QR codes eliminate these problems. Using a tag with a QR code lets anyone scan the code and retrieve information about the lost pet. Many pet QR code companies will contact you every time someone scans the code. That way, if someone does not contact you after scanning the code, you still know your pet's last location.
- Pet QR Tags – This link from a pet tag company contains information on the technology behind pet QR tags.
- PetHub – PetHub lets pet owners create an information page about a pet, and uses QR codes to locate a missing pet through GPS.
Pet owners can obtain QR code pet tags from any company that creates them, or they can make their own. Create a website about your pet, including name, address, phone number, vaccinations and vet information. There are many free QR code generators that use the URL for your website and turn it into a QR code. You can add the code to your website or print it. Use the code to make a collar or dog tag. Anyone that has a Smartphone, iPhone, or Blackberry with a QR tag reader can scan the code and help bring your pet home.
- QR Reader Software – This site contains a list of QR code reader apps, with links, for many mobile phones.
Microchips are another way for pet owners to locate lost pets. A veterinarian will embed the chip beneath the pet's skin. Each chip contains a unique number for the pet. A scanner reveals the number and vets or shelters use the number to locate the pet's information from a database. Vets embed the microchip and it is not invasive surgery. It takes as much time, and is as uncomfortable, as a rabies shot.
- FAQ about Microchipping – The American Veterinary Medical Association answers questions about microchipping.
- Microchipping Overview – Casselton Veterinary provides information on microchip technology and companies that supply them.
- "The Incredible Journey: Microchip ID Reunites Owners with Cat 13 Years Later" – A Scientific American article on how microchip technology found a missing cat.
- Microchip Implantation Sites – The World Small Animal Veterinary Association provides information on how dogs, cats, birds, fish and lizards are microchipped.
Is it better to use QR codes or microchips for pets? QR codes are easier to obtain than microchips. A vet should always embed a microchip even though there are at home microchip kits available. Microchips might move beneath the skin, making it harder to locate, but dog tags fall off and get lost. The only danger with QR codes is that they can carry viruses and be corrupted. There are warnings that microchips cause tumors and cancer in pets, but it is only speculative. Many people do not have phones that can read QR codes, making a QR code tag useless to them. Most vets use universal scanners that read every type of microchip available, but the pet numbers are not located in one database. Vets or shelters must search every database for the missing pet.