Man Reunites With His Missing Dog Thanks to Tool Designed to Help the Parents of Lost Pets (Exclusive)

Petco Love Lost is a database that helps owners of missing pets using image-recognition technology

<p>Courtesy of Nadav Schlesinger</p> Josh the dog and Nadav

Courtesy of Nadav Schlesinger

Josh the dog and Nadav
  • Nadav's dog Josh went missing recently after his home's back door and outside gate were accidentally left open

  • The pet owner used Petco Love Lost to help find Josh and reunite with the canine

  • Petco Love Lost is a lost and found pet database that uses image recognition technology

Nadav recently faced one of a pet owner's worst fears. He came home to find his dog best friend, Josh, missing.

"In a weird accident, both the back door and the backyard gate were left open, and of course, Josh took the opportunity and went out for an adventure," Navdav, a contractor and real estate investor in Pasadena, California, tells PEOPLE of Josh's disappearance.

"When I got home, I was first confused because the doors are never left open, so I didn't understand what happened, and then when I discovered that the back door was open, I got really nervous and worried," he adds.

Ten-year-old Josh, whom Nadav adopted when the dog was 2, is more than a pet to his owner; the canine is a close companion with a "huge soft heart" and plenty of "love to spread around." So Nadav quickly sprang into action when he realized his dog was missing.

Related: Abandoned Dog Left Strapped to a Tree by His Collar in Connecticut Is Ready for a Loving Home

As a first step toward finding Josh, Nadav contacted his neighbors to see if one of them had seen the pooch roaming the neighborhood recently. While none of the neighbors had seen the dog, one did have a tip for Nadav — try Petco Love Lost.

<p>Courtesy of Nadav Schlesinger</p> Josh the dog and his pet parent, Nadav

Courtesy of Nadav Schlesinger

Josh the dog and his pet parent, Nadav

Petco Love Lost is a national lost-and-found pet database designed by the nonprofit Petco Love to help the parents of missing pets locate their animals quickly and safely. The database is open to people with missing pets and those who think they have found a lost animal. An individual who has either lost a pet or found a missing one can file a report on that includes a photo.

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The Petco Love Lost system uses patented image-recognition technology to scan the submitted photos and search its database of lost and found pets from participating shelters, private citizens' reports, and reports from partner social media platforms to find potential matches.

If a match is found, Petco Love Lost connects the person missing the pet with the rescue or shelter holding the matching animal. If the match is between two individuals—the one missing the pet and the one who found the pet—Petco Love Lost provides an anonymous chat feature where they can communicate, so no contact information changes hands until everyone feels comfortable.

<p>Courtesy of Nadav Schlesinger</p> Josh the dog

Courtesy of Nadav Schlesinger

Josh the dog

Nadav took his neighbors' advice and filed a report on Petco Love Lost about Josh. Before long, Nadav received a message through the database from a nearby family who found a dog running around that they believed was Josh. After a brief chat, Nadav was relieved to learn that the canine the family found was Josh, and the man and dog reunited soon after.

"I learned that there are tons of good people that want to help," Nadav says of his missing pet experience.

Related: Malnourished Puppy Abandoned in a Portable Toilet Acts Like a 'Wiggly Angel' After His Rescue

He adds that he is grateful to the family who found Josh because they "took amazing care of him" while the dog was away from home.

Because of this family and Petco Love Lost, Nadav's missing pet experience was brief. He hopes that other pet parents will familiarize themselves with Petco Love Lost so they are prepared if their pet goes missing one day.

<p>Courtesy of Nadav Schlesinger</p> Nadav enjoying the outdoors with his dog, Josh

Courtesy of Nadav Schlesinger

Nadav enjoying the outdoors with his dog, Josh

"The results speak for themselves," Nadav says, adding, "I can't thank Petco Love Lost enough."

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Pet owners can register their pets preemptively on Petco Love Lost and instantly activate the listing if their pet goes missing.

With this database, Petco Love hopes to reunite families faster and keep missing pets out of shelters, where they can take valuable space from rescue pets looking for homes and be misidentified as strays if they don't have a microchip.

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