A leading animal facial recognition system is now available in New Zealand through the Whanganui-based New Zealand Companion Animal Register.

Nygllhuw Morris, of Animal Register Ltd, which hosts and administers the New Zealand Companion Animal Register (NZCAR), said the "PiP Facial Recognition" system is a tool to help reunite people with their lost pets.

"The facial recognition system expands the range of people who can report a pet as missing or found," Morris said.

"Our microchip database has 600,000 animals on it but you have to have a microchip reader to be able to read the chip.

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"Anyone with a smartphone can upload pictures of a pet they have lost or found.

"The system then does a comparison of photos of animals on our database and speeds up the recovery process.

"It isn't as accurate as a microchip which has a unique number but it's still very good and another tool to ensure even more lost pets get home. It's very smart technology."

Morris said the system was developed by a Canadian company "who have created unique algorithms".

"There's a big difference between animal facial recognition and human facial recognition.

"The eyes, nose and mouth are in approximately the same place on a human face but animals have many different features, such as long snouts or short snouts."

The system can quickly process the photos in the NZCAR database and narrow down possible matches.

Morris said NZCAR had only just started marketing the new system and he expected owners would upload photos of their pets to the register as they received their annual reminder to check their contact details or as they registered new pets.

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