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National Pet ID Weeks

About a month and a half ago, I began to write a post celebrating National Pet ID Week (falling on the week of April 28th). As it usually does, however, life often takes precedence and suddenly, it’s June! I do want to take the time to finish the original article, however, as the weather is only getting better and better and already, I have seen so many pets outside lately, without proper identification. There’s nothing more frightening than calling your pet’s name and realizing that he’s gone missing. If the unthinkable happens, however, the best way to help get him back safely at home is a proper system of identification.

As reported in a 2011 press release, according to the ASPCA’s Vice President of Shelter Research and Development, Dr. Emily Weiss, stray animals account for 40-60% of all animals taken into shelters (a statistic that varies from town to town and state to state). Dr. Weiss continues on to say “Combined with the fact that the return-to-owner (RTO) rate in most communities hovers between 10 and 30 percent for dogs and less than 5 percent for cats, we know that these lost pets are not finding their way home.”

The best way to improve these return-to-owner rates is to provide your pet with proper identification. There are several types to choose from.

ID Tags:

Identification tags or collars are quick, easy, inexpensive, and even fashionable options that should be on your pet at all times. Both dogs and cats (even an indoor cat can escape through an open back door or garage door) need ID tags with his/her name, your name, address, and day and evening telephone numbers. Be sure to choose safe options, especially for cats, that will allow them to escape should the collar gets stuck on a window blind or fence, etc.

A registry license from your local animal control:

A registry license is usually small tag that you can affix to your pet’s collar. It accompanies registration proof that your pet is properly vaccinated and registered within your town or city. These are especially important in the cities where they are required by law, obviously, but registration and licensing fees also provide funding to your town’s animal control and in some towns, even help provide low-cost access to spay and neuter services.

Microchip Implants:

While controversial in some circles, microchips are permanent identification markers that stay with your pet no matter what, and the American Humane Association encourages all pet owners to take advantage of this option. According to the AHA, nearly all animal shelters scan every animal for the presences of a microchip at intake and many veterinary clinics have scanning capabilities as well. Microchips are stamped with an ID number that is attached to your information in a large database. When your pet is scanned, your name and contact information will connect you with your pet and the shelter, agency, or vet in possession of your pet will be able to contact you immediately.

As you’re deciding which form(s) of identification are most appropriate for your pet and your family, keep in mind that the likelihood that a lost pet will return home safely significantly increases when a pet has more than one type of identification. For instance, a pet might lose or break his collar if lost and might only be able to be identified by a microchip. Conversely, if a pet who only has a microchip is lost close to home, neighbors won’t be able to identify him without a microchip scanner. It’s always best to start with an ID tag or collar as it’s the first form of identification most people look for when they find a wandering pet. However, don’t forget that multiple forms help improve the likelihood of a safely returned pet.

Sources: Found Animals, ASPCA, American Humane Association

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