Lower Hutt dog owners will soon have a way to track their escapee dogs - but how well the system works depends on how many people get on board.
Hutt City Council is rolling out special tags for dogs that can connect to a tracking app called Doggone, which will send a GPS signal each time the wandering pooch passes another cellphone that has the app.
Residents can buy the tags for just under $30 when registering their dogs, and can download the app on their phone to find out where their dog is off to when it escapes their property.
A trial of the app was carried out in Stokes Valley for three months with 352 people, and 98 per cent said it was a great idea, council's divisional manager of regulatory services Geoff Stuart said.
"Eighty-four per cent said it should be made compulsory at registration time," said Stuart, who noted due to privacy reasons among other things, council could not make it mandatory.
According to a survey by Doggone, 34 per cent of people who lose their dog immediately go out and look for it, and 24 per cent contact the council first.
Stuart hoped with the rollout of the app, there would be more "peer to peer" reuniting of dogs with their owners.
People who spot a wandering dog will be able to look at the number on its tag and contact that number to receive either the owner's contact details, or a council number.
Meanwhile, owners hunting their canine companions down can follow its process by seeing where its tag pings off other cellphones.
"It only has to go within 60m of anyone that has the app," Stuart said.
"That's very empowering to dog owners."
He hoped it would not only be dog owners who downloaded it, but also family and friends, vets, dog walkers, groomers, and so on.
"The more people who have the app, the more likely it is that the dog will get picked up."
During the trial period, owners reported six incidents when dogs went on the run, but Stuart believed the number was significantly higher, due to the number of people posting on Facebook about successfully using the app to find their pets.
Council will offer the special tags to dog owners at registration and will evaluate the system next year to see if it is worth continuing.
"We would just love dog owners to try it for this year," he said.
Council picks up about 70 dogs in Lower Hutt each month, and Stuart was pleased to see the number of unregistered dogs getting captured was decreasing. At 6-8 per cent, it was also below the national average of 13 per cent.