I was headed out for a walk tonight when I heard my neighbors frantically canvassing the neighborhood yelling for their beagle (once they start to follow their nose it is anyone’s guess where they could end up! The beagle that is, not the neighbors.). It was nearly dark and there were two weepy children, one weepy mom and a panicky dad, plus a squadron of other neighbors roaming the streets calling the dog’s name. I grabbed my two big dogs (always game for an adventure) and started looking as well. In my close neighborhood it felt like one of the kids had gone missing.
Little Bailey was found quickly, snuffling under a bush in someone’s front yard, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Tears were dried as Bailey was hugged and scolded at the same time. Luckily, Bailey was found within minutes of going missing, thanks to a neighborhood equivalent of the Amber alert, but it made me think about the importance of good identification.
Almost every day I come across a lost pet ad, be it on the grocery store bulletin board, in the newspaper lost and found, on a corner lamp post or via a frightened pet owner dropping off a missing poster at my clinic. I always get a pang because a lost pet is really a pet owner’s worst nightmare. Often, unfortunately, the ads or owners will say that the pet wasn’t wearing a collar, or had a collar but no tags. Some of these pets are microchipped, but many are not.
I am writing this blog to remind you to think about identification for your pets. Microchipping is a pretty inexpensive permanent way to identify your pet. It isn’t foolproof, since the pet must be scanned to locate the chip which is then linked back to a database containing owner information. You also need to remember to update your information if you move, but still, microchips are responsible for reuniting thousands of lost pets with their owners. At my office we scan every stray that comes in, just to be sure.
In addition to microchipping, don’t forget the importance of a good old fashioned collar with tags. While a microchip requires special equipment to identify, a collar tag is still the fastest way for someone to be able to reach you in the event they find your lost pet. Putting a cell phone number on a tag is a smart way to ensure that you are reachable no matter where you are. My pets are microchipped and wear collars with id so that they would have every chance of being found if (God forbid!) they were ever lost.
Tonight Bailey was lucky, and I know that she is microchipped and wearing a collar (she’s my patient in addition to being my neighbor), but she went missing in the blink of an eye and sniff of her nose. Remember to take the time to buy those collar tags and have your pet microchipped – you never know when you may need it.