Dogs get lost every day. In fact, statistics show ONE IN THREE pets will get lost at some point in their life. The weather is warming up and more people are out with their dogs and are leaving them unattended in their yards – dogs get out and roam free. I have read statistics as high as 90% of pets with out current identification never return to their families.
There are several things you can do to increase the odds of reuniting with your lost pet, if it should ever occur:
1. Always have your pet wear a collar with a sturdy ID tag displaying your current information.
Collars are your first line of defense. People are much more open to helping out a roaming dog that has a collar and tags. It is a homing beacon to the Good Samaritan that this stray is loved and someone wants it back (ie: if they get involved they have the expectation they will not get stuck taking the dog to the pound/shelter, or having to keep it). Most Pet Shops, Walmart and engraving shops have machines on hand to make an inexpensive metal tag on the spot in less than 5 minutes. That 5 minutes could be the difference between your dog being euthanized or sleeping on the foot of your bed tonight.
I suggest putting your cell number on the tag as a primary number. Since you will most likely be out looking for your lost pet, you won’t have your home phone in your back pocket or purse, it will be your cell phone. I have my dog’s name, my cell number and home number listed, in that order on my tags.
2. Have your Pet MICROCHIPPED.
There are several companies that provide microchipping various services and programs. Most shelters, veterinarians and rescue groups have or have access to a microchip reading wand. In the event your dog is brought in, they will be able to look for a chip and contact the company to get your personal information to call you. You will be provided with a tag listing the microchip number for your pet to wear alerting who ever finds the dog that it is microchipped. Periodically check to make sure your information is up to date, including alternate contact numbers (you can log into your account online to view your information). Some microchipping companies provide an insurance policy for your pet covering injury and illness while it is lost.
The most widely used microchip companies in the US are ResQ and HomeAgain. These companies are both widely recognized. Most veterinarians carry one or the other, but not both. The local animal shelters are generally able to scan an animal with an scanner and if a chip has been inserted in the animal, the scanner will alert the handler that a chip is present.
ISO frequency chips (134.2 kHz frequency) are used through out Europe and are NOT compatible with most US scanners. Currently Banfield located in Petsmart stores use the European chips… make sure you ask what chip you are having inserted (HomeAgain chips are 125 kHz microchips)
Microchips are available for insertion at most veterinary clinics. Make sure you know who is going to register the chip online… double check with the provider and make sure you have a good understanding before you leave.
3. Have a current photo of your pet
Having a current photo is very important for creating a lost pet flyer. It is also important to note that you should be able to have access to this photo at all times. Many pets go missing while their owner is on vacation. Being able to access a photo online (flickr, photobucket, snapfish and dogster are examples of free photo hosting sites) while away from home will provide invaluable when trying to locate your lost pet.
4. Keep you dog license current
Most states require that you register dogs with the town office through a dog license. Not only will having your dog license keep you from getting a ticket, but it may just save the life of your pet.