Tag Archives: GPS devices

Why We Do Not Endorse Lost Dog Tracking Devices and Tag

The Garmin  GTU - 10. Soon to be useless! It is still offered through 3rd party websites. Don't waste your money!

Thanks to the power of social media and the loyalty of our fans,   Lost Dogs Illinois, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin  and the sister organizations of  Lost Dogs of America have developed a very large Facebook following and audience (over 200,000 Facebook fans).   Many product developers contact us hoping that we will endorse their products.  The lost pet product market is booming.  Distraught owners will spend a lot of money both before and after their beloved pet goes missing.

These new devices range from nifty, high-tech ID tags to complicated GPS tracking devices that you affix to a collar.  The problem is that they all rely on a company that may or may not be around in a couple of years. Competition amongst these companies is fierce. Many will fail. I want to take a few minutes to share my story.

I have a high-flight risk dog named Pixie.  We often leave Pixie at a boarding kennel when we are out of town so my husband felt that purchasing  a collar tracking device would give us peace of mind while we were away.

My husband did the research on several devices and  purchased a GTU-10 mobile tracking device from a trusted company, Garmin. It cost about $200 and required a $50 yearly service fee.   The pros of the device: highly accurate, waterproof, easy to attach to the collar.   The cons:  a short battery life when it was in “search” mode, and it was fairly large and heavy for a small dog.

Regardless, we were happy with it. Until recently.

A visit to the Garmin website revealed the following message.  (We did not receive any notification from Garmin).

Here is what they have said:  “The connected services provider for your GTU 10 has determined to cease operations of its 2G network by approximately Jan. 1, 2016. Unfortunately, the third-party services necessary to support the network connectivity operations of your GTU 10 unit will be impacted. At this time, there is no viable alternative of such services; therefore, after such date your GTU10 unit will no longer be operational. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

The device will be useless by January 1, 2016. They are not going to offer a replacement device and they have not offered any sort of credit or refund despite my phone calls to their customer service department. One of the customer service representatives actually had a “too bad, so sad” attitude that we had spent several hundred dollars with Garmin and are now going to have a useless device.

Lesson learned and let this be a warning to all. GPS and cellular phone technology is changing so rapidly that many companies that are here today will be gone tomorrow. Although Garmin is not going out of business, the company that provided the support services for the GTU-10 is and apparently there is no viable alternative.

The best way to protect your dog is with a good old-fashioned visible ID tag (not a fancy gizmo tag that connects to a service) and a microchip from one of the 5 big reputable companies (Datamars, Home Again, AVID, 24 Petwatch or AKC) that has your current information registered.  If your dog goes missing, get the word out using old-fashioned flyers and  intersection signs.  Based on our 5 years of operation, flyers and signs are the Number One way that lost dogs are found.

Kathy Pobloskie, Director and Co-Founder Lost Dogs of Wisconsin; Co -Founder and Co-Director of Lost Dogs of America

-Good Ol’ Mugsy

-From the day he was born, Mugsy, a Golden Retriever mix, was a special dog. Nine years ago Elizabeth and Kevin Gerrard adopted his mom only to find out the next day that she was pregnant. Several weeks later Sandy gave birth to seven puppies and all but one were given to good homes. Little Mugsy suffered grand mal seizures and required special care, so Elizabeth and Kevin kept him. Now that Mugsy is a senior, he is taking medications for epilepsy and hypothyroidism and requires frequent visits to his vet.

Mugsy, taking it easy

This is one of the reasons that the Gerrards were so scared when, in April, Mugsy escaped through their storm door. Besides being on medications, they live in an area of  Bloomington, IL near several busy roads and his inability to move quickly would put him in added danger. They immediately searched their neighborhood’s streets and alleys on foot and by car. To their surprise, they realized he must have gotten further than they thought possible. There’s a chance he was hiding really well, as dogs who are frightened often do.

Next, they called Animal Control to give a description of Mugsy; should anyone have found him and turned him in, they would have the Gerrard’s phone number.  They listed his photo and information online, using sites like Craigslist, WJBC’s Pet Hotline , neighborhood association Facebook pages and Lost Dogs Illinois. On our site, they found our Lost Dog Search Action Plan and found the fan interaction very helpful. Our fans are so supportive!

Per a thorough search plan, the Gerrards contacted the Humane Society of Central Illinois as well as all of the vets and animal hospitals in their area. They made posters and hung them everywhere they could think of: stores, gas stations, golf clubhouses, restaurants, apartment complexes, and office buildings. Elizabeth and Kevin drove around for five-to-seven hours every single day searching for their beloved Mugsy.

It wasn’t until a very long 22 days later that they received the call they’d been waiting for. It could have been very good or very bad news. (Sometimes senior dogs and those with health problems can’t make it on the streets for such a long period. Finding food is difficult, being off of medications is dangerous, and a lack of agility navigating busy intersections and highways can unfortunately be fatal.) The caller was an animal control officer who told them he received a report of a dog wandering around near Laesch Dairy, located in a rural area about 20 miles from their home. The officer drove to pick up the dog and  he matched Mugsy’s description!

When Elizabeth picked Mugsy up from the animal control facility, they say he was “very happy to see her,” but, he didn’t look very good; it was clear he’d had a rough time in the wild. He had burrs in his hair, one of his eyes was red and swollen, and he was visibly skinnier. Elizabeth immediately took Mugsy to the vet- which they say he didn’t mind at all as he was accustomed to going there- where they removed his burrs, gave him prescription eye drops, and weighed him. He lost 10 pounds total, which wasn’t actually the worst thing in the world; he had been slightly overweight.

Once home, the Gerrards describe his behavior as “very clingy.” He obviously missed his family while gone and was afraid to leave their side.  He couldn’t seem to get enough water, but they kept him on his medication regimen and they say he’s “starting to be his old self again.” Now Mugsy is well on his way to rehabilitation and the Gerrards have put safeguards in place such as installing a gate at the end of their front porch as an extra layer of security in case he makes his way out again. Also, they’ve ordered a GPS device which will allow the couple to track him on their computer and phone if he somehow gets lost again. It seems the Gerrards are doing everything in their power to ensure Mugsy spends the rest of his years by their side, right where he belongs.