Can Your Pet Get Carded? Pet ID Week

Every time I walk out the door without my wallet, I feel a little internal tension — a little voice saying, “What if you get pulled over? What if you get in an accident?” and I almost always have to turn around and go get it.

If only our pets felt the same way. But the problem of stray dogs and feral cats proves that pets really don’t give a hoot about carrying identification. And that’s why we, as their owners and guardians, have to care for them.  Pet ID is a vital link in the chain of steps that gets your pet back to you if they get lost or roam away from home. The third week of April is National Pet ID Week and I think a little awareness is in order to help ensure that your pooch or kitty has every chance to be returned safely if they get out or run away.

I know what you’re thinking — my pet would never run away from home! He sits and stays and follows my every command! Or my cat is indoors only and would never try to escape! And while this might be true under normal circumstances, what happens when the windstorm simultaneously blows open the gate and freaks your dog out? Or when they see a squirrel across the street and the visiting neighbors have left the door open? Sometimes that urge to get away can overcome even the most disciplined dog’s training. Take it from me — I am ER vet with 20 years of experience and I have seen thousands of stray dogs come into the ER with injuries, and most of the folks who owned them thought they would never run away, too.

Here are some tips to help make sure your dog doesn’t become one of the thousands of sad statistics each year — dogs that run away and are never reunited with their loving families:

  • Make sure they have a current ID tag or microchip and be sure to update the microchip info if you move.
  • Microchips are injected under the skin and provide a permanent, safe and reliable means of reuniting your pet with you. And don’t listen to the whackos who claim that microchips cause medical problems — they have no scientific basis and are just stirring up unnecessary grief. When your pet gets lost, nearly every pet ER, vet hospital and animal shelter in the country has a scanner that can pick up the microchip. It’s then a simple matter of calling the company and getting your contact info.
  • Make sure you have a current, in focus, and easily accessible picture of your pet should they become lost — it’s helpful for flyers, newspaper or Craigslist ads, etc.
  • Keep a list of nearby animal shelters, ER vets and humane societies handy, as well as your local animal control agencies.
  • When your dog is vaccinated against rabies by your veterinarian, you will get an ID tag that is linked to your record at that hospital. This is another piece of identification that can lead them back to you — and assures the folks finding your dog that the dog is current on his rabies shots should they bite anyone.
  • Cats need ID, too, even indoor ones! Try a specially made breakaway collar that has a mechanism in it that’s released if the collar gets caught on furniture, fencing or other objects. The mechanism is safest and helps prevents choking.

Having ID on your pet is the cheap, easy and safe way to prevent tragedy — make sure your pet has ID on them at all times and you can rest assured that you’ve done what you can to ensure they come safely back to you if lost.

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