Lost pets are a serious issue. I am fortunate that I’ve never lost my own dog, but there are plenty of people I know who have gone through the ordeal of losing a pet and having to take steps to reunite. This isn’t uncommon. In fact, one in three pets will be lost in his or her lifetime. Many will never return to their worried owners and most will end up in shelters. Sadly, this is because these pets do not carry identification, or their identification is out of date. Without current identification, there is no way for even the most resourceful person to figure out where these poor animals belong.
This is why it is so important to practice TLC and place a tag on your pet’s collar with your current contact info, license your pet with your local city or county, and chip your pet with a scannable microchip.
Tagging your pet is elementary –- the first place a Good Samaritan will look when they encounter a wandering pet is at the tag on her collar. As obvious as this should be, you would marvel at the number of times tags contain outdated contact numbers. Make sure yours is current, with your phone number listed, and update it every time you move or change your number.
Licensing your pet is something that many of us don’t think about, but it is one of the best ways for animal services workers to verify that a pet belongs to a caring owner. By entering your pet’s unique license number into their system, shelter workers can pull up your name, address, and other information necessary to track you down and return your pet to you. In many areas, licensing your pet is the law and revenues from yearly renewal fees go right back to important city or county animal services, like your local shelters, where the money is used to care for lost pets.
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. Make sure your pet is microchipped and registered with up-to-date info at a microchip registry such as Found Animals, which is free. Keep in mind that a microchip only works when registered with the correct pet parent contact information, and needs to be updated every time you move or change phone numbers.
So show your pet a little TLC. By ensuring your pet is tagged, licensed, and (micro)chipped, you are providing the best loss prevention for your pet, as well as protecting your own peace of mind.
About the Author: Aimee Gilbreath is the executive director of the Found Animals Foundation.