April 15-21 is National Pet ID Week, so it’s a perfect time to reiterate how important it is to make sure your pet is properly tagged and chipped! Did you know that one in three pets gets lost at some point in their life? It’s true, and the sad part is that very few of these pets ever make it back to their homes.
Let’s start with the basics of pet identification: a collar and tag. Good Samaritans are more likely to stop and help a wandering cat or dog if the pet is wearing a collar with a tag because they know they won’t be “stuck” dealing with a stray dog or having to house it themselves. So while you may see Spot’s argyle collar as a fashion statement, someone else may see it as reassurance that the wandering pup has a home.
When creating the tag for your pet, there are a few things to consider including:
- Your cell phone number: You are likely to not be at home if your pet is lost – you could be at work or out looking for her yourself! The call that someone has found your pet is not one you want to miss.
- Your address: The person who picked up your lost dog or cat may prefer to just drop her safely at her home.
- Your pet’s name: It can help your scared pet feel more secure if he is called by name.
Be sure to keep your pets’ rabies vaccinations up to date as well as their city or county license. Both of these things will provide an extra tag for his collar, and therefore another way to get in touch with someone about the potential owners of the lost pet.
Always have a current picture of your pet handy, just in case you need to make a flier to alert the neighborhood to your missing pet. This is a heartbreaking flier to have to make, but using a current photo will be more helpful to your neighbors than one of your four-legged friend as a puppy or kitten.
Unfortunately, collars and tags can occasionally be separated from the pets they are meant to identify. Breakaway collars for cats are meant to do just that for safety reasons, and dogs lose collars all the time. So, while I always advocate the use of a collar, I also recommend making sure your pet is microchipped. This is a permanent form of identification.
Microchips are implanted non-surgically under the skin of your pet and remain there for her lifetime. Veterinarians, shelters and humane societies know to scan a lost pet upon its arrival to find out if the pet has a microchip. Should a chip be found, the number is noted, matched to an owner, and then the pet and owner are reunited! Just be sure to keep your contact information updated with the microchip manufacturer, so that the scan will show the most current way to reach you.
If your pet does not currently have a microchip, pick up the phone and call your vet. This is a very quick appointment (you’ll be in an out in no time!) and may save you, your family and your pet heartache should he wander off and get lost.