Can you imagine your beloved Fluffy in a cold, impersonal kennel with no way of coming home? It is a sad fact that only 15% of dogs and 2% of cats will get back home once they reach the shelter if they are not properly identified. With over one million lost or stolen pets every year, what can you do to assure their safe return? A well-identified pet has a better chance of coming home.
Pets can become lost or stolen when their surroundings remain unsecured; an unlatched gate, an open window, or a door left ajar. They can disappear when left unattended; in a car while you shop or left in the yard by themselves. They can leave the property when electronic fences or collars are not operating properly. Thunderstorms and fireworks can cause your pet to panic and run away. Winter snowstorms can challenge your pet’s sense of direction resulting in your pet losing their way. In an emergency or natural disaster, your pet can get lost in the confusion.
There are three ways to identify your pets: tags, tattoos, and microchips.
- Tags have the advantage of an instantaneous return IF the tag information is current and readable. I recommend having two phone numbers, one of which should be a cell. Leaving a message on your home phone isn’t going to help if your not there.
Tags can become worn and illegible over time. They can fall off or in the event of a theft, be removed from a collar. Collar tags are an alternative to hanging tags. They can’t fall off or get caught on something.
- A tattoo is a series of numbers and/or letters in permanent ink. Common areas include the ear, groin and belly. The tattoo is useless unless the number is registered with a national database. There are two registries. The first is American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery and their website is www.akccar.org. The second is the National Dog Registry and their website is www.nationaldogregistry.com.
There are two problems with tattoos. The first is that most people do not think to look for one or how to trace it. The second is visibility. Tattoos may be covered by fur.
- Microchipping is the implantation of a biocompatible glass encased RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) microchip. The chip is specific to the pet and microchip company.
The biggest problem is when the chip is not registered or the membership renewed. Craig Simone of the Danbury Animal Control Office said, “I hate to tell you how many times we find a microchipped dog and could not return it to its owner because they did not register it.”
Both microchip companies and the tattoo registries have consent to treat forms in an emergency should your pet become injured while lost and the veterinarian cannot reach you. Fill it out.
There is no one foolproof method for identifying your pet, but the better you do, the better his chances are of coming home.
Part two will cover steps to take in the event of a lost pet.