New dog collar to alert owner when climate is too hot

After a summer full of tragic incidents involving dogs left in hot cars, it seems it was only a matter of time before an inventor decided to do something about it.

What the Dog Caller app’s interface may look like on a mobile device. (Photo credit: FastCo Create)

The Canadian advertising agency Rethink is developing the high-tech collar, which will alert a dog’s owner with a text message when the temperature of the dog’s environment climbs towards the 80-degree mark and into the danger zone.

The lifesaving dog collar is currently in development, but the fully functional prototype looks promising. The Internet-connected Dog Caller, as it has been dubbed, uses a SIM card, a coded chip, LEDs, and a thermistor to read and report a dog’s temperature.

Aaron Starkman, a Rethink partner, came up with the Dog Caller after he had a scare with his own dog. While doing what he thought was a short errand, Starkman left his Golden Retriever, Hefty, in the car. When he returned 20 minutes later, he found Hefty struggling in the heat.

Luckily Hefty recovered, but Starkman will never forget how close his dog came to heatstroke — or even death.

“I almost was one of those awful people you read about,” Starkman explains. “Nobody knows it’s just a matter of minutes.”

Starkman emphasizes the Dog Caller is only intended as a safeguard against tragedy and not an excuse to leave a dog in a hot vehicle.

“The collar is by no means meant to encourage people to leave their dogs in a car,” Starkman says. “We never ever under any circumstance want anyone leaving a dog in a car.”

But Starkman acknowledges accidents do happen, and should a dog be left in a vehicle, perhaps the Dog Caller will provide a wake-up call for owners. “If the collar does end up saving a dog in a car, we’ll obviously be thrilled in that result,” he says.

The Dog Caller is slated for a 2013 release and will cost around $20.