Pet ID – Helping Them Get Home Safe

13 Aug

Do you have a pet? Great! Does it have at least one form of identification? If not, why? Is your contact information up to date?

Have you thought to double-check?

Go check right now………. I mean seriously go and check!!

Life gets busy, we move, phone numbers and addresses change, divorces happen and updating your pet’s identification may get lost in the hustle and bustle of life. One form of ID is better than none but personally, I prefer 3. This may seem overkill to some but bear with me as to my reasoning.

I feel like this is an important topic and something that can trip up long time pet owners. I also feel it is important because it has been my experience that when my pet gets a tattoo or microchip or both, it is never really fully explained by the vet that the microchip needs to be registered to be of any use and that the tattoo is specific to their vet clinic and that if you ever move or contact information changes, it needs to updated at the vet clinic where the tattoo was done. I have had pets for many years and I did not know this until several years ago. I was shocked at how little I actually knew about the process so I thought that maybe others would want to know this information as well.

The one thing that I do know is that animals cannot talk (eventhough I wish they could sometimes) but they cannot say…I am lost and my house is just around the corner, please take me home. Pet ID is their only way of communicating to the finder where they live and who their owner is.

Many times I have come across an animal wandering and they have no id….do you have any idea how hard it is to even begin searching for the owner?

The three forms of ID I use are the following:
1. Collar with ID tag
2. Tattoo
3. Microchip

With any form of ID, there are of course pros and cons to all.

Collar with ID Tag
A good sturdy collar with a durable ring to attach the ID tag to is an inexpensive simplistic way for your pet to always have ID. Collars come in all kinds of colors, sizes and styles and tags can be ordered online or most local pet supply stores have a small selection of engraveable tags. When ordering the tags, I always include the area code with my phone number, my address as well as the city and province. I include this information because, there have been several instances where I have found a dog with a tag and all it has is the dog’s name (which is great) and a phone number with no area code and no city. More often than not the phone number is from the same area code where the dog is found but what if it isn’t? That could be quite an issue and it can become nearly impossible to figure out the correct area code.

• Simplistic easy way for the finder to determine that the dog is owned
• Contact information of the owner is readily available providing that it is up to date

• Collars can fall off or maybe you don’t always have your collar on your pet. Cats are famous for losing their collars
• Collars can be easily removed by someone that wants to steal your pet
• When contact information needs to be updated, it can take a bit of time to receive the updated tag if you order it online

Tattoos are another common method for ID’ing your pet. Generally, the placement of the tattoo is in the right ear however, sometimes they can also be on the inside of the thigh. The procedure is performed under anesthetic and can be done when your pet is being spayed or neutered. This procedure heals very quickly and your pet won’t even notice. The tattoo is specific to that individual animal as well as the vet clinic that tattooed your animal.

The pros and cons associated with this type of identification are:

• Permanent form of identification
• Simplistic way for the finder to determine that the pet is owned

• Tattoos can fade and become unreadable over time
• Some finders may not know to check other areas on the pet’s body other than the ear
• The owners contact information is not readily available to the finder

Thirdly, there is microchipping
Microchipping involves the implanting of a microchip under the pet’s skin and the information can be read by a scanner. A needle is used and the procedure is relatively painless. It can either be done at the time of spaying or neutering or at a regular vet visit. No anesthetic is required. The microchip number is specific to the individual animal.

• Permanent form of identification

• The finder has no way of knowing that your pet is microchipped unless it is wearing a tag that says it is microchipped
• The finder may not know to take your pet to a local vet clinic to have it scanned for a chip as this is not general knowledge to everyone
• A microchip is useless unless it is registered and the contact information is up to date
• Currently there is no microchip scanner that is universal that reads all microchips
• Microchips can migrate from the area where they are placed and can be difficult for the person scanning to locate the chip

My dogs have all three forms of ID however, my cats only have 2 (tattoo and microchip). They are indoor only cats but accidents can happen, doors get left open or someone lets them outside by accident. I don’t put collars or ID tags on my cats because, I am worried that the collar may get hooked on something when I am not home and that they could strangle themselves.

If your pet does manage to get lost, a couple of tips that could help reunite you with your pet quickly are:
• Put a missing pet sign up in your front yard with a picture of your pet…often they are just a few blocks down the road. A lot of times when people find a wandering animal, they will drive around the neighborhood to see if anyone is looking for their missing pet.
• If your cat is missing, put their litterbox outside so that they can smell it.
• If your dog is missing, put one of your shirts or sweaters outside. Their sense of smell could lead them right back home.

Check local shelters and animal control in person and bring a picture of your pet. Often times when pets have been missing for a long time, they can be dirty and have matted fur and may not look quite the same so looking in person can ensure that your pet is not overlooked by staff.

Many strays come into shelters with no ID and it is heartbreaking to know that they may have a family out there somewhere but because they don’t have ID, there is no possible way for them to be reunited unless their family is actively looking for them.

What is your preferable way to ID your pets?