The next topic I want to talk about in my series on being a responsible pet owner is identification! Every year 5-7 million pets enter animal shelters nationwide. 3-4 million of those animals are euthanized every year. Shelter animal intakes are about evenly divided across the country between animals relinquished by their owners and those picked up as strays. *According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2 percent of cats and only 15 to 20 percent of dogs are returned to their owners. Most of these were identified with tags, tattoos or microchips.* (taken from the ASPCA website)
Those are alarming numbers! The single most loving act you can do for your pet is to give it an identity in the great, big, scary world. I can't even begin to count the number of dogs I have found wandering the streets with collars on but no tags or microchip! And cats? Forget it! I have yet to even see a cat with a collar on! Microchipping is great and oh so easy! Your vet can do it at the time of a regular vaccination appointment or it can be done when they are spayed/neutered. Over the last 10 years or so animal shelters have begun chipping every animal that leaves their building and goes into a new home. However, chipping should not be your pets only line of identification. A collar with tags are vitally important as well, even for cats! I will admit my cats don't wear collars, but they are microchipped and are not allowed outside. If I were someone that allowed my cats outside you can be darn sure they would be sporting a pretty collar with a tag! Your tag doesn't have to be fancy or announce to the world where you live, but it should have every single phone number you can possibly fit on there so if someone were to find your pet they could try a number and reach you. Most dogs have a rabies tag, and that is a good identifier too…IF you haven't changed vets and IF your dog is found during veterinary office business hours! It is so important to make sure all your pets tags are kept up to date and that you also alert the microchip company if you move.
I have heard excuses recently of "oh, my dog never leaves my side" or "he's never outside without me" That is all well and good, but it only takes one time and your pet could be lost forever. Is that a risk you are willing to take?
You made a commitment to take care of your pet for its' life; you work on training and socializing and exercise and mental stimulation but don't forget the other piece to the puzzle…IDENTIFICATION!! It's what all the responsible pet owners do, join the club!!
Here are some of my favorite sites for collars and tags, as fancy or as plain as you want! Check them out and then outfit your dog/cat with his very own sign of your undying love! =)
Lupine collars/leashes/harnesses (I love this line, they have great designs and have an awesome guarantee on their products)
Pet tags: they have regular and designer tags as well as collars that can be embroidered
Premier : Another great source for collars/leashes and harnesses, as well as other dog and cat related products
Another great place to look is your own local pet store! Get to know the staff and hopefully you will find a wealth of support and help!