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Editorial

Casper Critters


The Importance of ID Tags on Your Pets



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02/01/2010 - By Gayle M. Irwin

Several times during the past few months some friends and I have encountered dogs running loose, a few of which we've been able to get close to and we have attempted to return them to their homes. Lost dogs seem to be prevalent in our community. Unfortunately, most of those my friends and I have tried to help did not have identification tags, and therefore, these lost pets could not immediately be returned to their owner; instead, they were taken to the Humane Society or Metro Animal Control. I think it's time for a reminder about the importannce of identification for our pets.

First and foremost, pets need to STAY HOME! A loose pet could be a dead pet, due to being run over or getting into a fight with another animal and losing the battle. When you leave your house, make sure your doors are all closed and locked. If your dog stays in the back yard, ensure the gates are all closed and locked. And, make sure your dog can't jump the fence. (For example, you have a picnic table or other item positioned too close to the fence. This could enable the dog to jump up on the item and use it to scale the fence). I've walked my dogs around my neighborhood for years and on occasion a Lab or other big dog jumps its backyard fence; that's scary for a dog-walker and for the dog's owner!

Secondly, it's vital that our pets have a collar and ID tag, with a minimum of a city license and a rabies tag on the collar. Through the city license, a dog's owner can be traced (providing the address and phone recorded at Metro is current, which was one way I was able to return a wandering dog home); a pet can get home quickly if it's lost when it has a current city license. The rabies tag (current, of course!) ensures the pet has been vaccinated in case it bites someone, and sometimes the pet's owner can be found using the tag number printed on the rabies tag.

Highly consider putting an identification tag on your pet's collar as well with your contact information, at least a phone number but an address is also quite helpful. What good is a collar without identification if your pet is missing? Countless lost pets never return home because there is no way to trace an owner without the pet having a city tag, rabies tag, and/or identification tag. And, if you and your pet move, update that tag's information.

Remember, too, that collars can be removed intentionally or somehow slip off. Even if all the tags are on the collar, if the collar is missing, again, how can the pet be returned to its owner? Therefore, seriously think about microchipping your pet. This is easily, and somewhat inexpensively, done at your vet's office. Also, Metro at times offers a microchipping clinic so watch for an announcement about that opportunity. After the microchip is implanted, if the pet ends up at Metro or the Humane Society, a scanner is used to detect the microchip, which contains the owner's information and therefore, the owner can be contacted about a missing pet. A microchip is especially helpful if your pet is stolen and ends up at an animal shelter, no matter where in the country, for the microchips are part of a national database. Microchipping to me has been a wonderful invention, and ALL my pets are microchipped (I have a cat who LOVES to slip out of her collar, therefore, a microchip is necessary for her!).

So, help your pets get home if they ever become lost by having proper ID with tags and/or a microchip. You will save yourself and your beloved pet great heartache by taking the time to make sure your furry friend can get back home!

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Gayle Irwin is an author and speaker with a deep affection for pets. She is the author of two children's books: Sage's Big Adventure (2007) and Sage Learns to Share (2009). She is also a speaker in local schools as well as a former journalist and humane and conservation educator. Her publication credits include a story Chicken Soup for the Soul: Lessons Learned from the Dog. She is the proud "pet parent" of two adopted dogs, who serve as characters in her books. For more information about her writing and speaking, visit www.sagestory.com and www.gaylemirwin.com.

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