We’ve all read one, a “feel good” story in a magazine or newspaper where Fido or Fluffy – missing for months or years after accidentally getting out of the house and getting lost – returns to the family home once again. We love those stories not just for the obvious happy ending, but also because we think that no matter how long our pets are missing, they will still be searching for us. That may be true, but sadly most pets can’t find their own way home. That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead and arm your dog or cat with as many tools as you can to ensure that they can be returned to you if lost.
Next week, April 18-24, is National Pet ID Week, and it’s a good time to review what we know about pet identification. Let’s be honest, many of things we intend to do (like getting Fido microchipped or filling out the registration once Fido IS microchipped) tend to get away from us. “I’ll do it tomorrow” can multiply before your eyes and before you know it, your pet is lost without proper identification.
Here are a few tips to help you be prepared:
Your motto needs to be ‘prepare for the worst.’ Hopefully the worst never happens, but if it does, you’ll feel better knowing that you’ve done everything you could to prepare. 1 in 3 pets will be lost at some point in their lifetime, so make sure that you get organized. Remember that a lost pet could happen for many reasons, an open gate, a house fire, a natural disaster, and you never know when the situation will strike.
Get your pet microchipped. Microchipping is a great way for your pet to be identified anytime, anywhere. Plus it’s permanent! Nearly every veterinarian will microchip a pet for you now, so make an appointment or add it to your next visit. And even more importantly, once you get your pet microchipped, follow through with the registration immediately. This ensures that your pet is registered to you and that someone else will be able to locate you when your pet is found.
You might consider putting a current photo of your pet online on a site like Flickr or Dogster. You can create a mini-profile for your pet which lists any allergies, food restrictions, or medical needs that your pet may have, and it’s accessible from anywhere. If your pet is lost, you can refer people to that page.
Don’t forget the good, old-fashioned dog tag. With all the microchips and online sites, it might seem like an obvious thing to overlook, but tags are very important. If your pet is lost and is wearing a collar with tags, it tells the person who finds them that they are an owned pet, not a stray. Depending on what tags are on collar, it can also tell people that the animal has had its shots as well as the pet’s name and address. For years my dog also wore a tag on his collar with the name and address of the veterinary hospital I used. It was just another way to make contact if my dog had gone missing.
And always, always remember to update your personal information (address, phone number, email, etc.) with your veterinarian, your microchip service, and anyone else that would need to contact you about your pet. The microchips and dog tags are only as good as the information attached to them.
You’ll feel better knowing you’ve done all you can to prepare for your pet’s return. After all, they’re a part of the family!