A new high-tech collar aims to help prevent dogs dying in hot cars. The “Dog Caller” collar sends the owner an SMS if the dog’s temperature exceeds a safe level. Developed by the Toronto Humane Society and ad-agency Rethink, the product is not intended as an excuse to leave your dog in the car, but rather as a back-up system just in case.

Developed as an “extra-curricular” project by Rethink (a company known more for its beer commercials), the product was first conceived by Aaron Starkman, a partner in the company. On a hot day last year he left his dog, Hefty in the car to run what he originally thought would be a one-minute errand. When he returned twenty minutes later the temperature of the car had soared, and the dog was suffering from terrible heat exhaustion. Fortunately Hefty survived, and it was this close call that prompted Starkman and his ad-agency to design The Dog Caller collar.

The collar is a simple fabric band with a small black box clipped to the front. Inside, a thermistor is used to constantly measure the dog’s temperature, while a SIM card and coded chip allow the device to send an SMS if this temperature becomes too high (approximately 80° F or 26.7° C).

Both the Toronto Humane Society and Rethink stress that the collar is to be used only as a back-up, and not as an excuse for people to leave their dog in the car. Bottom line seems to be that people shouldn’t, but inevitably will leave their dog in the car at times. “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.”

Currently in its prototype stage, the product is anticipated to be available to the public in early 2013. For those concerned about hanging an expensive piece of technology around their dog’s neck, the collar is expected to only cost about US$20.

A promotional video can be seen below.

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