Google Voice is a free internet phone service that can be used to aid in lost pet searches. You just need to have a Gmail account (also free), and you can select a Google Voice phone number. When this number is called, you can set your account up so that the call is forwarded to multiple other phone numbers. If you prefer to screen all calls, then they can instead be routed to an online voicemail service, and you can receive a text or email when a voicemail is received. There is even a Google Voice app to use on smart phones. It may seem complicated with all the options, but the basic features are quite simple.
Here are some of the ways a that a Google Voice phone number can aid a lost pet search:
- Provide you with an anonymous phone number to use on posters and online so that you don’t have to share your personal number. You can even call people back using your Google Voice number.
- If you put the Google Voice phone number on your posters, calls to this number can be automatically forwarded to everyone involved in the search.
- If you lose your pet in an area far from home, you can select a local Google Voice number. This may encourage some callers who don’t want to incur long distance charges.
Some suggestions when selecting your Google Voice number:
- Make sure that the number you are selecting is a local call to the area that your pet is lost. Just because the area code is the same does not mean that it is a local call. Use this website to check for local numbers.
- Search for a number that is easy to remember such as repeating digits or one that spells something easy to remember.
- Be aware that once you select a number, there is a charge to switch to a new Google Voice number.
If you already have a Google Voice number that you use for another purpose, then just create a new Gmail Account specifically for finding your missing pet (e.g. HelpFindDante@gmail.com) and select a new Google Voice number for this account. In order to do this, you will just need a second mobile phone number to link to this account.