By Autumn Ziemba, Fox 8 News Reporter
SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio -- Amber Alerts have become a powerful tool to track down missing children, but can they do the same when man’s best friend disappears?
The website Pet Amber Alert says yes.
The site offers a paid service available to anyone who has lost a family pet, and just like any Amber Alert, the phone call goes out to the masses.
In a matter of minutes, the site contacts your neighbors, local animal shelters, police departments, vet clinics and even area businesses, through phone calls and virtual fliers with the missing pet's picture and information.
"I think it's a wonderful idea. I mean, pets are your family," said Mary Ethridge, a Summit County resident and “mother” of two poodle mixes, Daisy and Sidney.
Ethridge said a pet amber alert service would be invaluable to her.
"Daisy loves to run away the minute a door opens a crack, so we've chased her at times for two, three hours at a time," she said.
The website has the potential to help not only dog owners, but ease the burden on area shelters that take in thousands of lost dogs every year.
“We put 1,154 animals back out in homes last year," said Georjette Thomas, the director of community outreach for One Of A Kind Pet Rescue in Fairlawn.
Thomas told Fox 8 that every day the shelter gets frantic calls from families who have lost a pet.
Normally, she said, they recommend families post ads in the paper, but this week the shelter got its first call from Pet Amber Alert.
Thomas calls it a powerful tool.
“That site is going to do a big piece, a huge piece. It's going to get many eyes on the situation and get the information out there faster than anyone else can," Thomas explained.
On its website, the company claims an 85-percent success rate, if used within the first week that a pet has gone missing.
And while this website is high-tech, Thomas said the best bet for pet owners is still the most simple one.
“We often tell people the fastest way you're gonna get your pet home is with an appropriately fitting collar and current tags. It's the number one thing you can do," she said.
Pet Amber Alert offers packages ranging in price from $40 to over $200, depending on the size and frequency of the outreach.