A man holds a Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy S5 smartphone in an arranged photograph outside a Samsung retail store in the Central district of Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Samsung, the largest smartphone maker, posted the lowest sales at its mobile-phone business in five quarters as Chinese producers gain in emerging markets with cheaper, feature-packed devices. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

A smartphone app has been launched that promises to help pet lovers find lost pets and network with other owners.

Zoopa helps locate lost pets within a 50km radius of the user using facial recognition software to identify lost animals and get them home.

It also lets fellow pet owners connect with each other and share information, such as a pet’s age, breed, markings and chip numbers, which can be stored on the app.

The app also promises to give users information on local vets, groomers and pet sitters.

It can also be used by businesses to advertise their services and get ratings from customers on the level of service they experienced.

The app is available on App Store and Google Play Store, where it has 1 000 downloads so far.

Mandy Crerar, the founder of Kitten Action, which takes care of abandoned and feral cats, said: “There is definitely a place for it.”

Crerar, whose organisation has been around since 1999, said the app’s strong point was its immediacy – helping owners to get out notices quickly when a pet went missing.

Crerar said the app could make her life busier because more people would contact her for advice.

Randburg resident Peter Loudon said he had found the app useful.

“It is a great idea and brings people with common interests together.”

He said his son, Deon, who runs a pet care business, uses the app for communication with potential clients.

Loudon, who works with computer software, said the app’s use of facial recognition software could be a real boon, but was curious to know how it would work.

He said it was relatively easy to create human face recognition technology, but animal face recognition was more challenging because hair on the pet’s face would grow and make detection more complex.