En route to go camping in a small Ontario town, Aaron Starkman made a quick pit stop to purchase a camping stove. Since it was pouring, Starkman figured leaving his golden retriever, Hefty, in the car for a few minutes would be ok.
After being stuck in a 20 minute lineup, Starkman left the store to find the rain had cleared and the sun was beaming down. To his horror, he found Hefty struggling in the heat. Hefty survived, but Starkman was shaken up over the close call.
“I almost was one of those awful people you read about,” he said of the long-ago incident. “Nobody knows it’s just a matter of minutes.”
This summer, Starkman was horrified at the number of heat exhaustion cases that killed a number of dogs who were left in cars. This is when he decided to take action.
Starkman, along with a team at Rethink, his ad agency, came together to invent a dog collar. This isn’t any old dog collar though. This collar is able to detect your dog’s temperature and text your cell phone if your pooch is becoming overheated.
The “Dog Caller” contains a SIM card, a thermistor, several LEDs and a coded chip. The collar works much like a cell phone, but without a keypad or screen.
The collar monitors your pets temperature, and then sends an alert when their temperature passes 26 degrees Celsius. This gives the owner time to get to their pet before it’s too late.
Starkman made it very clear, however, that the collar is not being created as a solution for owners to leave their pets in hot cars.
“We never ever under any circumstance want anyone leaving a dog in a car,” Starkman said, “but if the collar does end up saving a dog in a car, we’ll obviously be thrilled in that result.”
Starkman believes the collar will be extremely beneficial for emergency situations, such as power outages that leave your dog in an overheated apartment.
Although Rethink is better known for their beer advertisements, the “Dog Caller” is being invented as part of a campaign. Starkman, who is a partner and creative director at the agency, hopes that the project will “actually do something to save dogs’ lives.”
The collar is expected to hit pet stores next year.
Although the collar is still in the prototype phase, Rethink is in the process of conducting a more immediate plan of action to prevent heat-related dog deaths. In a partnership with the Toronto Humane Society, Rethink is creating a web campaign and TV commercial for “Doggy Havens.” These Doggy Havens will be dog friendly stores that will allow your pooch to enjoy cool air conditioning on hot days.