The first Saturday of every April is “Every Day is Tag Day,” sponsored by American Humane, a non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of the nation’s animals. The event is part of a nationwide focus on the importance of pet name tags and microchipping.
Nearly 10 million pets go missing each year in the U.S., according to American Humane. Sadly, only about 2 percent of lost cats and 15 percent of lost dogs without ID tags or microchips find their way back to their owners.
Both pet name tags and microchips need to have current contact information in order for them to be effective. Since pet ID tags can fall off or be removed, a microchip provides another layer of protection. Animal shelter staff members routinely check for microchips on stray animals.
A tiny capsule about the size of a rice grain, a microchip is inserted under the pet’s skin near the shoulder blades. Most shelters and veterinary offices have the equipment to scan the chip’s identification number that can be traced back to the pet owner through an online database. Some large pet stores, like PetSmart and Petco, have scanners as well.
Here are some tips to make Every Day Is Tag Day count for your pet.
- Make sure your dog or cat wears a collar with a name tag that includes the owner’s name, current address, and phone number.
- Update the tag if you change your address or phone number.
- If you are traveling, place a short-term tag on your pet with the phone number of someone who is taking care of your pet and knows how to contact you.
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking indoor pets don’t need name tags. Many pets get lost after running out an open door or escaping during a thunderstorm or fireworks.
- Don’t take your pet’s tag off because of the clinking noise it makes. Instead, try plastic tags, tag pouches, or personalized collar plates.
- Put your pet’s collar back on as soon as possible after a bath.
- Don’t rely solely on microchipping. A person who finds your lost pet may not be able to take it to the vet or the shelter to have it scanned. An ID tag is a much easier way for someone to get in touch with you quickly.
- Inspect your pet’s tag regularly to ensure the ID tag is legible and in good condition.
- Make sure your pet’s collar is fastened securely. For safety reasons, cats should have breakaway collars that will unsnap if it becomes ensnared in branches. If your cat loses its collar, you will need to replace the ID tag as well.
Dogs and cats become part of our families, and we don’t like to think about them getting lost. By equipping your pets with name tags and microchips, you have the best chances of them getting back home to you safely if the unthinkable happens.