|

How to track a lost animal

We tested three GPS devices for pets

Consumer Reports magazine: May 2012

Illustration: Alison Seiffer

You can hunt down a misplaced iPhone or a complicated address using GPS—why not a lost dog or cat?

We tested three devices for keeping track of pets. Each has a GPS unit that stays on the pet and communicates with the owner. In testing, our “pet” was often an engineer who wandered around our headquarters while another tester tried to find him.

The Garmin and Tagg devices link to a cell-phone system, and info is accessed on a smart phone or computer. The PetTronix communicates through radio waves with a handset used by the owner. All require GPS communication, so when GPS isn’t available, they don’t work.

PetTronix RoamEO, $200

How it works. Rubber collar with GPS unit and battery compartment communicates by radio with the owner’s handset, which has its own GPS and compass. Handset displays distance and direction to the collar, updating continually. Display can be backlit for night use. This device doesn’t require separate service.

Pluses. When it worked, it worked well, easily tracking a moving target. Use doesn’t require cell-phone coverage or any other subscription.

Minuses. The range depends on the terrain and is at most half a mile. Battery charge lasted about 24 hours, and the two batteries must be recharged separately. So if you leave the collar on your pet because you never know when it will wander, you’ll recharge the batteries a lot. The collar is bulky, so it’s best for medium or big dogs.

Garmin GTU 10, $200

How it works. Zipped nylon case attaches to pet collar with Velcro. Uses AT&T network to communicate and can be tracked from a browser or app on a smart phone. Up to 10 “geofences” can be configured as virtual boundaries. If the pet crosses one, the owner gets an e-mailed warning. This device includes a year of service; there's a $50 annual renewal fee.

Pluses. Unlimited range. Case stayed securely connected. Geofences were easy to configure. Deluxe plan ($4.99 extra per month) allows tracking kids or cars, too.

Minuses. Battery life can be short, and location info updates slowly in the mode that yields the longest battery life.

Tagg Pet Tracker, $100

How it works. Clips to collar. Uses Verizon network and can be tracked from a browser or a smart-phone app. Communication can also be through text messages. One “Tagg Zone” geofence can be configured around the charging station. This device includes one month of service; there's a $7.95 monthly renewal fee.

Pluses. Unlimited range. Tagg and clip stayed secure. Tracking was quick and easy. Tagg Zone was easy to configure.

Minuses. Battery life can be short when the device isn’t near base station. Tagg Zone’s minimum size is about 4 acres—useless if your desired pet area is small.

   

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters!
Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Latest From Consumer Reports

TELECOM SERVICES REVIEWS
FCC to make net neutrality the law of the land Redefining ISPs as 'common carriers' is a victory for the open Internet.
2015 AUTOS SPOTLIGHT
Exclusive report: 10 Top Picks of 2015Video These are the cars and SUVs that our experts love—and you will too!
MATTRESS REVIEWS
Some ‘identical’ mattresses have big differences We compared the Serta iSeries Vantage to its so-called replacement.
CAMERA REVIEWS
Smile! Top cameras with 16 megapixels or less Higher-megapixel image sensors doesn't always produce better photos.
2015 AUTOS SPOTLIGHT
2015 Car Brand Report Cards reveal the best carmakersVideo We rank the brands based on road-test score and predicted reliability.
DIET PLAN REVIEWS
Surprising effects of a high-protein, low-carb diet You might lose some weight, but as always there's a catch.

Connect

and safety with
subscribers and fans

Follow us on:

Cars

Cars New Car Price Report
Find out what the dealers don't want you to know! Get dealer pricing information on a new car with the New Car Price Report.

Order Your Report

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more