One in three companion pets will go missing in their lifetime. According to the ASPCA, over 6 million companion animals enter an animal shelter every year; however, only 700,000 animals will reunite with their people. We can increase those odds and help our pets find their way home with proper pet identification.
Every pet parent should prepare for a lost pet. Even indoor-only cats can get out and go missing. Pet identification is a great way to ensure your pet has the best chance of getting home.
Pet ID tags hanging from a collar is the easiest and most visual option for your pet. Microchipping is a great backup form of ID, but a visual ID should be your first line of defense. The size of the tag should be optimal for the size of your pet; the ID tag needs to be easy to see and make sure that the details are easily read. National Pet ID Week is a great time to ensure contact information on identification tags is up-to-date and legible. ID machines are located in many stores and can create tags while waiting. Small business sellers on sites like Etsy and eBay offer more personalized options.
Style personalization aside, basic information should take priority. The name of your pet and contact number is standard. If space allows, I’M LOST to the tag may encourage a potential finder to take action.
There are many types of ID tags. They come in various materials, sizes, colors, and personalization options. ID machines are located in many stores and can create tags while waiting. Small business sellers on sites like Etsy and eBay offer more personalized options.
Microchips are an excellent second line of defense. Microchips are slightly larger than a grain of rice, and they are inserted just under the skin between the shoulder blades of the animal. Insertion of the microchip is generally well-tolerated, and placement causes no more discomfort than receiving their vaccination shots. Most shelters and veterinarians have a wand-like device with a small screen that scans over the shoulder blades of the animal. If a microchip is present, the display will show the microchip registration number.
A national database maintains the contact information of registered microchips; this allows notification of the pet owner. You should ensure that the microchip is registered and keep the contact information up to date. It also helps to note the microchip on a visible tag.
While some products can keep track of your pet's location via GPS, microchipping is not a real-time tracker for your pet. GPS trackers are an option, but not without drawbacks. The size of the GPS tracker can be cumbersome for smaller pets. Another drawback is the cost of the device, and a monthly subscription may be required.
If your pet doesn’t have a tag or loses it and you are lucky enough to find them, identification packets are helpful to keep on hand. It is common for shelters and rescues to require proof of ownership before relinquishing an animal. Keep a file with current photos showing any distinguishing marks up-to-date vet records. A copy of municipal registration for your pet and microchip number and contact information to the company is also a must-have in this file. Contact information to your veterinarian and any other proof you can think of can make getting your pet back to you safely and quickly. Some even include a pre-made “LOST PET” flyer on hand with current information, just in case; this can help alleviate some of the stress when you are concerned that your pet has gone missing.
National Pet ID Week is a great time to take these preventative measures to help ensure all of your pets have the best chance at finding their way home. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Lehnanne Gibbs Kidd, CCA volunteer