Online maps are a very useful tool for organizing and coordinating a lost pet search.
Satellite View Maps
Satellite view maps such as those available on Google Maps, Google Earth or Bing Maps can be used to get a good idea of the surrounding area and where a lost cat or dog may have gone.
The maps can be used to determine:
- High probability search areas.
- Locations for posters, especially main intersections.
- Local businesses for posting flyers (note: to see businesses, you will need to zoom in very close to the street level).
Determining Search Areas
Some online map tools give you the ability to set up a radius around a point such as the location that an animal went missing. This can be used to establish likely areas to conduct a physical search, distribute flyers, and put up posters.
Google Earth Pro
Map Developers Tools
If you don’t want to download anything, and just want to make some quick maps, the Map Developers Draw a Circle Tool works well.
If you have a Google account, you can also create and save your own maps under “My Places.” On this map you can add different shapes or icons to keep track of areas that you have searched, possible sightings, feeding stations, and poster locations. The link to the map can be shared with other people (collaborators) to help coordinate the search effort. When setting up your map, you will need to decide if you want it to be public or private, and when inviting collaborators, you will need to decide whether you want them to be able to edit the map and invite other collaborators. Example Map
You can add search areas to your Google Map by uploading a KML file generated from Google Earth Pro or Free Map Tools. Or you can draw them yourself by using the ruler tool to determine distances and then drawing a line around the area using the “add line or shape” tool.
Free Map Tools
This used to be my favorite mapping tool, which I used in conjunction with Google Maps to share with clients. However, due to changes by Google, the Free Map Tools website is currently not working properly. I will provide an update if this changes.
Determining the Radius Around a Point on a Map
At the Free Map Tools website, you can determine the Radius Around a Point on a Map. This can be very useful to determine the area that a lost pet might travel and the locations to put up lost pet posters.
- Enter a radius
- Enter a location name or address near to the point of escape or point last seen
- Change color and line thickness to:
- Line Thickness – Medium
- Line Color – Red or Blue are most visible
- Fill Color – Clear
- Click the Draw Radius button
Check to make sure that the center marker is in the correct location. This map tool uses Google Maps and sometimes they are slightly to significantly off from the correct location. If the location is not correct, click the Clear Map button. Then click on the map itself at the correct location, and it will draw a new radius.
Distance Between Two Points
The Free Map Tools website also has a tool to find out How Far Is It Between two points. This can be useful to determine the distance between the location a pet was lost and a potential sighting.