If you have a young child, one of your worst fears is losing your child in a crowd. If you have a cat or dog, you also worry, about your pet running off and never turning up again.
But in today's high tech world, there's now an app for that: to keep track of your loved ones.
Dog Always Escaping From Yard
Gambit is a beagle-shepherd mix who won't listen to anyone. Megan Abrams -- a busy mom with a year old toddler -- didn't know what to do, as Gambit was always finding ways of getting out of the yard.
"He can either dig holes and get under the fence," she explained, "or the fence is broken a bit and he can lift it up."
Frustrated, she decided to buy a new device called the Tagg Pet Tracker.
Tagg shows her on her iPhone 24 hours a day where Gambit is, and alerts her if the dog leaves the yard. Abrams says so far, it has helped her find Gambit twice during his neighborhood excursions.
Tagg is sold online or from Verizon Wireless for about $100, plus a service fee of $8 a month.
You simply clip the device to your dog or cat's collar, according to Jeannette Elson of Verizon. She said once you download the app, "it'll pull up the map and you can zoom in. And you can see they are on the corner of Green and Main, wherever they may be."
AT&T customers, meantime, may be interested in similar product on the AT&T network, the Garmin GTU Pet Tracker for $200.
Tracking Children, Too
It's all part of a growing trend: products to keep track pets or children.
Worried about a young child? You can now choose from a number of GPS devices that your child can wear: one of the top rated, in several magazine tests, is the Amber Alert GPS.
Its infomercial explains: "having your child wear an Amber Alert GPS device, snapped to a belt or carried in a backpack, provides you constant assurance of his or her location"
Amber Alert costs $200 and has a $20 monthly fee, twice that of the Tagg pet tracker (the Tagg, however, is not designed for or recommended for use on children. The $200 Garmin GTU works for either pets or kids).
If that's too pricey, you may want to look at some low tech solutions.
Some tracking devices use RF, instead of GPS, and alert you if your child wanders away in a shopping mall. However, they will not pinpoint their location, or work over an extended distance.
These child alerts cost from $10 to $50 on Amazon and other sites.
Another low tech device is the $20 "Safety Tat" designed by a mom and dad who worried about losing their child at an amusement park.
Adrienne Troxelle baby sits 2 year old Addison, and worries about losing her when they are out shopping. So she was thrilled to try out "Safety Tat,"which is essentially a washable tattoo with your cell phone number on it.
Kids love washable tattoos, so it will work on most of them without fuss.
"That would be fantastic," Troxelle said. "It would save a lot of hassle, for sure. Otherwise, she can't explain who she belongs with, her phone, or her address at age 2."
Sure, this will help only if a good samaritan finds your child, similar to a chip you put under a pet's skin. They have to turn up in the care of a helpful person, who will then check them for a way to locate you.
GPS Gives Peace of Mind
But for the best protection, there's nothing like GPS. As long as the pet or child is wearing it, you can find them.
I took Gambit the dog down the street, and within minutes Megan Abrams got a text alert that someone was stealing him.
Sure, a GPS tracking unit may sound a bit inhumane to place on a child. But think about it: We track our iPads and smartphones this way in case we lose them.
Why not something you love?
That way you have a better chance of a reunion and you don't waste your money.
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