Keep Your Dog Safe and at Home on "Every Day Is Tag Day"
Dogster is happy to help celebrate Every Day Is Tag Day on Saturday, April 4. Despite what it might sound like, this isn't a day dedicated to celebrating the fun childhood game; what it means is that if you haven't gotten your pet a tag or a microchip, this is a good time to think about having it done.
Once upon a time, I would never have suggested microchipping. The whole chip trend sounded a little ominous, the sort of thing that might have resulted if George Orwell had written a dystopian version of Marmaduke instead of working in prose. First you start by putting a chip in Bowser in case he gets lost; next thing you know, some shadowy Syndicate has secretly inserted one into your neck and is tracking your every movement and financial transaction from a secret room in the basement of Area 51.
I'm sure that some of you have had similar thoughts, and I'm not just saying that on the orders of a couple of burly HYDRA agents with cattle prods. Animal microchip implants (or PIT tags -- Passive Integrated Transponder -- as they're known in geek speak) have proven themselves to be be huge boon to pet lovers, and Dogster has published a lot of really good examples of why microchips are good for your dog.
Basic facts: What is this thing that I'm putting into my fur friend?
Most thoughtful dog owners aren't going to be too comfortable with inserting something into their pet without knowing a little something about it beforehand. That thing's going to be in there for a long time, after all, and you're relying on it to do something very, very important. Fortunately, we have the basics in a condensed, easy-to-read form on our Dogs 101 page: Dog Microchips and Identification. That's an excellent place to start.
Then, check out Annie Phenix's "5 Reasons to Microchip Your Dog" for some more detailed -- and more personal -- reasons that chipping your dog is a good decision.
Does a chip replace dog tags?
In a word, no. Aimee Gilbreath says as much in her article, "Protect Your Dog with Some TLC: Tag, License, and Chip," where she advocates doing all three. As she points out, a tag is the very first place that someone will look upon finding your dog. But they can get lost, and lots of tags have outdated information, which is why you should back it up with a chip:
So you have your pets tagged and licensed, why then take the extra step to get your pet microchipped? Well, look no further than recent natural disasters such as Katrina, Sandy, and the current spate of El Reno tornados. If your pet goes through a natural disaster and survives, that doesn't necessarily mean his collar did as well. A collar can easily slip off your pet and get lost in a crisis situation; a microchip cannot.
An implanted microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, is the only permanent form of pet ID. So even if your pet gets away from you, and his collar and tags get away from him, he can be scanned by a vet or a shelter and returned to you anyway. The cost of a microchip is negligible compared to the worry and heartache it will help you avoid if your pet is ever lost.
Continuing the case for making sure your dog has multiple ID systems is Tim Link's Let's Talk! piece, "Tags, Microchips, Tattoos: Can You Have Too Much Dog ID?" As Tim notes, tattooing is something that not many people do, and while it has the benefit of being permanent and low-tech, it's one of those things that's unusual enough that most people don't look for a tattoo when they find a lost dog. On the other hand, chips have become common enough that scanning for one has become standard operating procedure at vet offices.
Do they work in real life?
Absolutely. If anything tipped me from my X-Files-inspired fantasies about the implications of microchips into embracing the far more optimistic (albeit less snazzily dressed) reality, it was hearing stories of real live people who were reunited with their pets solely because of the chips. Here's a few:
"Five Years Later, a Microchip Reunites Jessica Namath and Her Dog": The daughter of football legend Joe Namath got one of the best holiday present possible last year. Five years ago, her dog Tula wandered away from home. A door-to-door campaign, ads on Craigslist and in the newspaper, and even a $2,000 reward didn't turn up the dog. But five years later, when a stranger took the dog to the pet hospital, the two were reunited.
"After Six Years, a Microchip Reunites a Dog and Her Family": Last November, a young man brought an aging black Lab in to an animal control center to be euthanized. The vet did a routine chip scan and found that the database had a phone number for her original family. The vet called the number as a courtesy, and six years after she disappeared from her yard, Molly and her family were reunited.
"A Microchip Sends a Lost Family Dog Home After 7 Years": This happened just last month, and it's a little bit more of a heartbreaker than the others. Seven years after a small Maltese named Reese vanished from the home of Dinah Miller in Tyler, Texas, a vet in Tacoma, Washington, scanned him for a chip. Unfortunately, the Davis family had adopted Reese six years ago, and dearly loved him. So Reese -- or Harley, as the Davis family called him -- wound up with two families competing to bring him home.
As you can see, there's a lot of reasons for pet owners to chip their dogs. If you haven't done it yet, Every Day Is Tag Day is certainly the time to think about it and schedule the appointment to get it done.
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