No pet owner ever wants to think about this, but it is easy for our animal friends to become lost in this big world. Sometimes they slip out the back door, wander about the neighborhood, and are unable to find their way home. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy , only about 15.8% of dogs and 2% of cats that enter rescue shelters each year are reunited with their owners. This is because, in most cases, the rescue staff has no way of knowing how to reach a pet’s owner without an address or a telephone number.
Fortunately, there are several (very affordable) pet products that carry contact information. All pets should have some form of identification on them—such as an ID tag and/or a microchip.
What to put on your pet’s ID tag?
The American Humane Association has created an annual holiday on the first Saturday of April named Every Day is Tag Day, to remind pet owners of the importance of personalized identification tags for cats and dogs. When rescue shelters bring in new animals, one of the first things they look for is collars with ID tags.
In addition to your pet’s name, inscribe your current address and phone number on the tag. Then attach the tag to a collar and have your pet wear it as much as possible—even in the backyard and the neighborhood park. (You might be surprised how many pets go missing close to home!)
The collar itself is equally important: it needs to be adjustable enough to fit comfortably around your pet’s neck but not so loose that it easily slips off. Dogit Adjustable Nylon Collars are ideal for canines. They are single ply, made of sturdy material, and feature an engravable nameplate for identification. They also come in a variety of colors and have built-in metal rings from which you can attach additional pet ID tags!
Why is it important to microchip your pet?
When it comes to pet identification, there is no more dependable product than the microchip. A microchip is a tiny electronic apparatus designed to carry contact information. It is about the size of a single grain of rice and is injected under your pet’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. (The injection process is performed by a licensed veterinarian in a manner like a vaccination. It is quick and virtually painless.) After injecting the microchip, your veterinarian will activate it by running a handheld scanner over the area between your pet’s shoulder blades. The scanner can read the microchip without causing any discomfort to the pet.
When you purchase a microchip, you will also receive paperwork detailing how/where to register with an online database. Log into the database and enter all your contact information. Once this is done, any facility with a scanner can read the microchip and find your contact info in the database. (Most animal shelters and police stations check for microchips as a matter of routine.) If you move to a new residence or change phone numbers, log into the database again and update your information.
Statistics report higher success in returning lost pets via chip use. According to the American Veterianary Medical Association, 52.2% of microchipped dogs and 38.5% of microchipped cats are reunited with their families—whereas unchipped dogs and cats make it home only 21.9% and 1.8% of the time. So, what makes microchips the most reliable tool for pet identification? Simply put, it is a permanent form of identification. Whereas ID tags become worn over time (not to mention collars can be removed or accidentally left off), microchips are built to last, and the data they carry remains viable throughout your pet’s life.
Provided you keep the information in the database up to date.
The importance of keeping information up to date.
To reiterate: microchips—as well as ID tags—are helpful only if the information they carry is current. Whenever you move, replace the ID tag with one displaying your new address and phone number. If your pet has been microchipped, log into the database and update the information there, as well. Outdated contact info does not help shelters reunite pets with their families.
One last piece of advice: all pets need some form of identification. Many identified animals who end up in rescue shelters are indoor pets that escaped from the house. So, even if your cat or dog spends most of their time inside, get them an ID tag or talk to your vet about getting them microchipped—just in case.