A lost pet is every owner’s nightmare. To help, we have National Pet ID Week. It’s a great opportunity for owners to review the steps they can take to make sure that their pet has the best chance of being recovered should the animal become lost. One out of three becomes lost at some point, but having some form of identification greatly increases a pet’s chances of being reunited with their owner. So let’s get to work making sure your pet’s ID is ready to go!
Pet ID collar tags are the first form of pet identification that usually comes to mind. Tags are available at most pet stores and a variety of websites. The most important piece of information is your phone number. A dog or cat found with just that one piece of information will most likely be quickly returned.
An address can also be very useful especially if your pet hasn’t wandered too far from your neighborhood. Some owners forego including the address on the pet ID tag either because it takes up too much space on the tag or for privacy reasons. Ultimately, you need to do what is best for you, but in recovering lost animals more information is better than less.
Including a pet’s name can help a pet found by strangers feel more at ease. Some owners choose to not include their pet’s name precisely because they don’t want the animal to be too comfortable with strangers, particularly if they are concerned their pet might be a target for abduction.
Other information can also be included if space permits. Some owners include the pet’s state or county registration number (if applicable), while others may include the phrase “I’m microchipped” on the tag. Some concerned owners have “medicine needed” printed on the tag in the hopes that it will help speed up the recovery process. Finally, there is the option to include a more personalized message. “I’m lost! Please call my family!” or “Help me get home!” are messages that might inspire the person who finds your missing pet to help the animal get home.
If your pet is already outfitted with ID tags, take a moment to make sure that information is still legible. Worn, damaged, or otherwise unreadable tags don’t help anyone. Lastly, make sure your pet wears their ID at all times. No one plans for their pet to escape, so making sure they always have their collar with ID tag on will give you more peace of mind.
Microchipping is the other main form of pet identification. A small microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, is implanted under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. If your pet gets lost, the chip can be scanned at a shelter or vet’s office and your contact information retrieved. It’s important to note the chip isn’t a GPS so it won’t show you where your pet is. It does however give your pet a form of ID that they are never without and that greatly improves their chances of being recovered. In fact, research shows that lost dogs with a microchip are 2.5x more likely to be reunited if found, and for cats that increases to 20x.
Microchips should be periodically scanned to make sure they are working properly and haven’t moved from where they were implanted. This can be done by your vet during your pet’s yearly check-up. Also, it is important to make sure that the microchip registry always has your current contact information. If you move or change phone numbers be sure to contact the registry and provide them with your updated information.
Making sure your pet has identifying tags on their collar and a microchip will make things a little less stressful should your pet get lost. So take a moment this week to either get your pet some identification or make sure their existing IDs are updated and good to go!
The Michelson Found Animals Foundation’s mission of saving pets and enriching lives is made possible by the generous contributions of Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson.