A whopping one in three pets ends up lost at some point in their life. And, according to the National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2% of cats and only 15 to 20% of dogs are returned to their owners. Lost pet recovery is something all pet parents need to think about and prepare for.
Heartbreaking, right? And a little scary. Luckily, there is plenty we can do to help ensure we are reunited with our loved ones should we get separated. No matter how closely we watch them and how diligent we are about closing the gate to the yard, there is always the possibility circumstances beyond our control will develop.
Aside from keeping their immune system strong, so they have the best opportunity to stay healthy during times of intense stress, such as getting lost, there isn’t much we can do for them until we are reunited. Here is the leading pet ID guide for those who need the critical info. Follow one or follow them all. Successful, lost pet recovery is at our fingertips.
Standard Collar ID
A collar with a metal ID tag is the common method of ID we all fall back on to make sure our pets will be returned to us. Unfortunately, while 80% of pet parents understand the critical importance of ID tags, only 33% of guardians actually make their pets wear ID tags all the time (ASPCA).
So, let’s say the firefighters have to enter our house or yard to get access to a fire they need to fight at our neighbor’s house while we are at work. They don’t pay attention to where our uncollared pet is because they have bigger things on their mind. We run the risk of our fur baby being driven out of the yard or escaping the house and getting lost.
If we commit to join the 33% of people who actually keep collars on their pets, we join the 80% of pet families who are most likely to get their pet back.
Digital ID Tag Service
The problem with standard tags is they can get scratched, and the information can wear off over time. But we can add a backup tag to our pet’s collar. We’re not talking about a duplicate tag. These tags contain a digital code that doesn’t wear off and can be scanned with a smart phone.
Some of these tags are connected to a paid subscription account, but there are plenty of free accounts. When we sign up, we join a community of pet owners who receive local alerts when our pet is reported missing and can keep an eye out.
If we want something a little more tech advanced, GPS tracking is the latest and greatest option for pet tracking. We can pick up tags such as, Tile or Trackr, that use Bluetooth to notify us when our pet is nearby. We also have an online map that will show us where our pet is when someone who also uses the app and Bluetooth passes near our pet. They don’t even need to be able to capture our pet to scan them. This crowdsource option is a huge bonus for those of us with skittish dogs and hard-to-catch, elusive cats.
The GPS option also means we have more connected options, such as tags fitted to our pet’s collar that will use those handy satellites to tell us where our cat has wandered off to. In the event of a natural disaster or emminent storm, having the ability to track our pet and recover them quickly is an incredible relief. Consider Pod, which requires a nominal monthly fee, or Findster, which does not require monthly fees, but has some limitations to service.
Microchips are the vet’s go-to solution for pet tracking. Dogs and cats are injected between the shoulder blades with a very small electromagnetic transponder the size of a grain of rice. The chip has a unique code that we then register with a recovery program like HomeAgain or Avid.
The only requirements are that we follow-through and register, and that we update our online information when we move or change contact information. The best part of microchipping is the range. All vets and shelters in the U.S. have scanners and should automatically scan every animal brought to them. This way, even if their collar is missing, we know their next most likely stop to the vet or shelter will reveal our contact info.
The downside to chipping is the possibility that the chip will slip. Some microchips can slip down the shoulder. This isn’t a big problem but can make scanning difficult or make it seem like there isn’t a microchip. Also, a dog may have multiple chips, which can result in a call to previous owners instead of the current owner. The best solution is to have the vet scan our pet at their yearly checkup. They can check the location and make sure the chip with the correct info shows up.
Yeah, you read that correctly. Many people choose to tattoo their pet on their inner thigh, tummy, under their ear flap. This avoids microchip confusion, missing collars, and tech failure. It also tends to be a bit surprising or offensive to people outside the purebred community. While tattoos are common among purebreds to prove their lineage, many pet owners who are new to the idea can be resistant.
This isn’t exactly a biker tattoo of a heart with the word “mother” across it, or a skull and crossbones. This is a phone number that will never change or a short code that can be entered on a website to find our contact info. A mild sedative and topical numbing agent are applied. The tattoo is quick and heals without issue if it’s well taken care of.
We can register the code with AKC Reunite, the National Dog Registry or Tattoo-a-Pet. The AKC Reunite program, for example, has a one-time lifetime enrollment fee and allows registrants to join regardless of species, age, size or number.
Help Spread The Word
There are so many ID options to help ensure lost pet recovery efforts are successful and our precious companions make it back home. There’s no reason not to choose at least one form that will fit our lifestyle and budget. Get them all or a combination to be extra safe and have the peace of mind that comes with knowing the kind pers or people who find our lost friends will be able to figure out how to contact us.
This week is Lost Pet Prevention Week, and April 23rd is National Lost Dog Awareness Day so be sure to join the conversation and help spread the word by sharing this article to your social media, using #NationalPetIDWeek, #NationalLostDogAwarenessDay, and #LostPetPreventionWeek. Don’t forget to tag us or add #vetorganics. If just one person sees your post and is inspired to take action, you might just help to reunite a family!