You may take your pet’s ID tags for granted but you really shouldn’t. Identification tags are the single most important means to getting your pet back if it should somehow wander off. I know, we’re living in the age of the microchip and your pet is probably chipped, but don’t place too much confidence in that microchip. Is your pet’s chip info even up to date? Have you moved or has your phone number changed? In our emergency hospital we frequently have stray pets presented, often late at night, who have no visible identification. We scan those pets at no charge for the good samaritans who bring them in but, unfortunately, the chips are often of no value. The owner has moved, the microchip was never registered, or for some other reason we can’t get the owner info that we need in order to get the pet back to its owner. If the pet is injured, not having owner approval means that unfortunately we can only provide minimal medical assistance. Microchips should be considered a last resort. When the collar gets lost and all else fails, hopefully the microchip will come through.
VISIBLE identification is always the best means of getting your pet back when it’s lost. Think about it. Most of the time when adversity strikes, the collar and anything thats securely attached to it will survive intact. One of the best identification devices I know of is to have your pet wear an embroidered ID collar. Our cat, Mucho, travels with us all over the country in our RV. He wears an embroidered collar (bright fluorescent yellow so people can see it; a cat with a collar belongs to somebody…) with both Annie’s and my phone numbers on it — no name, nothing else. That’s all we’re ever going to care about if he gets lost — getting that all-so-important telephone call from whoever might find him. The phone numbers are dark in contrast to the light colored collar, but even on his cat-sized collar they can be read from a few feet away. Mucho is friendly but we want that phone number to be visible even if he happens to get spooked for some reason. If you have a dog, many people are understandably reluctant to approach a strange dog, but a phone number on his collar does not require anybody to get uncomfortably close.
In addition to the embroidered ID collar, do not forget the engraved ID tag, whether plastic or metal. Remember that an engraved tag is of tremendous value even if you only put your phone number on it. All it will take is a phone call from someone interested in your pet’s safety and well-being, and if they are interested enough to wonder who this little urchin is, then they are certainly interested enough to take out their I-phone and dial your number. These are low-tech solutions but remember, low-tech is still the most durable solution. High-tech is convenient and quick when it works but it is also subject to the foibles of the digital age. You and I don’t care what works, as long as it works. You just want your darling back.
Now, welcome to the digital age. For ease of use and quick, complete information, consider a digital pet tag. These things are great, especially if you travel or if your circumstances change frequently, such that a permanently engraved plastic or metal pet tag is not practical for you. The tag is a USB thumb drive or flash drive, or whatever you choose to call them. You insert it into the USB slot on your computer and add whatever identification information you feel is important. Similarly, when your pet is found the person who finds her puts the tag into the USB slot on a computer and retrieves the information. You can copy an entire book to one of these tags if you like, although it should be most effective to keep the information simple and easy to read and interpret. I have personal experience with two different versions of the digital pet tag. For bigger dogs I like the Flexi PCPetID which is a USB flash drive enclosed inside an aluminum capsule. It looks to be fairly durable and watertight and probably quite resistant to environmental factors and damaging behavior. (As opposed to the lightweight plastic type that Mucho wears and which is apparently no longer available). I think the Flexi PCPetID is probably just a little too big for cats and small dogs. Do bear in mind that this type of tag is likely to be instantly destroyed if you have one of those dogs that tends to find that kind of entertainment irresistible, or if you have multiple dogs who tend to chew on each other. I like the simplicity of the USB flash drive tag. You don’t have to go on-line, sign up for anything, or pay anybody any fees and the information on it can be modified at will.
I have recommended this type of electronic device for several years now on my “Cruising with Pets” webinars. These tags are great if you travel. I periodically put Mucho’s tag in my computer and update my travel information and itinerary. Since we live aboard our RV, our address periodically changes, and these tags are just the cat’s meow in convenience. You can include copies of your pet’s health certificate, rabies and vaccination info, feeding info, shoe size, whatever and however you’re so inclined. Give your dog or cat the benefit of modern technology for the price of a decent collar.
One more solution is the QR tag. These are a slightly more sophisticated upgrade and they also appear to be a little more durable than the USB tag. The QR (for quick read) tag has one of those little square QR codes that you see everywhere now. They’re hot right now so they’re on everything. I see them on food containers, packaging, movie posters, even the sides of trucks on the highway. You aim your phone camera at the thing and an app connects you to a website. Check out the Red Dingo QR Tags. These tags require that you go online and register, but signup is free (unless you elect to sign up for a premium version of their support). You can also use a Dynotag, which is a similar type QR tag but for general purpose use. (It will work just as well for your pet as for your luggage.) Whichever type QR tag you choose, when somebody finds your pet, they scan the tag with their phone, and the information (even the geographic location of the phone, if the phone’s location info is turned on) connects to your own private webpage or connects to an intermediary who has your information. From there you hopefully will be notified. Give some thought to letting your pet experience some of the perks of the digital age, and hopefully you’ll never have the need to find out how it works.
And don’t forget, if your pet is too active or too unruly for one of these devices, at least get an embroidered collar and maybe an old-fashioned metal or plastic pet ID tag. I know you think your baby will never get lost or run off, but just in case… Give him or her the best possible chance of getting back home if the unthinkable does happen.
(I have included some ad links to Amazon on my website for a couple of the above tags. I do want my readers to know that, in addition to the usual common google ads found on my website, captdrdave.com is a participant in the Amazon affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.)