When pets go missing …
Animals go missing every day. Sadly, many lost pets are never reunited with their parents. More often than not, a simple lack of identification is what stands in the way of you getting your furry family member back safe and sound, or the unthinkable.
At our kennels in South Auckland, people regularly bring us wandering dogs so we can keep the dogs safe, but many of the dogs brought to our kennels have no collars, no name tags, are not clearly microchipped, and they invariably end up at the council.
Here’s hoping your pets never get lost or stolen, but just in case, like a good scout. it’s always a good idea to be prepared.
Keeping a tag on your pets
Firstly, the importance of ID tags. Having personalised identification and contact information securely attached to your pet’s neck makes it much more likely that you’ll be reunited should they decide to take off on a solo adventure, or something dreadful happens such as an earthquake, weather event or fire.
What to put on your pet’s ID tag?
The first thing you probably think to put on a cute ID tag is “Fido”. How cute is that?
Unfortunately, that could be a mistake. Putting a pet’s name on a tag means everyone your dog, or cat, comes into contact with will know their name. Helpful for someone with good intentions, but not so helpful for your pet if someone with less noble intentions comes across them in their wanderings.
Here are some safe options to include on your pet’s ID tag:
- A mobile phone number.
- Your address, or safer still, just the suburb or area where you live.
- “I’m microchipped! Please call a vet.”
- “Help, I’m lost, and my family is very worried! Please call them.” (A personal note is always nice.)
Collars and tags alone, however, are not always effective at identifying your pet as they are easily removed or lost.
Importance of microchipping pets
Name tags and a microchip in combination give lost pets the best chance of getting home.
In New Zealand, unfortunately, the devastating Christchurch earthquakes demonstrated just how effective microchipping can be at getting lost pets home. According to the SPCA, well over 80% of microchipped animals were quickly reunited with their owners following the Canterbury earthquake in 2010.
Consider microchipping your pets, so they can be easily identified if they are lost or separated from you.
What is a microchip?
Microchips are no bigger than a grain of rice and are implanted in the soft, scruff of your pet’s neck. The insertion process is simple, safe, and pain-free, although it must be performed by a vet to ensure the microchip is positioned correctly. The cost of microchipping varies depending on the size and breed of your pet, and there is a one-off registration fee. Microchipping can also be used as legal identification if your pet’s ownership is in dispute or if it is stolen.
The New Zealand Companion Animal Register
Animal microchips don’t include trackers or a GPS. Each microchip has a unique number, which is stored in a database together with your owner details. Your contact details must be registered and up to date so you and your pet can be reunited. The New Zealand Companion Animal Register allows pet-owners to update their details at any time, so you don’t have to worry if you move. The register can be accessed by vets’ surgeries, The SPCA and some animal rescue centres when they scan your pet for a microchip.
Keeping unwanted pets out
An added benefit is the use of microchip activated pet doors. These are programmed to your cat or dog’s microchip and prevent unwanted animal intruders accessing your home and nicking fluffy’s dinner. Some even let you control when your pet enters and leaves the house.
But remember, even with all the new technology to help us find lost pets, such as microchips and apps like https://pettracking.co.nz/ and https://doggone.co.nz/, who are working with Councils around New Zealand to see how their app could be integrated into the annual dog registration, we shouldn’t forget about the tried and true methods: pet ID tags.
Does my pet still need an identification tag?
Yes. Sometimes microchips can fail, or you may forget to update your details. As well as being microchipped, your pet should also wear a collar and ID tag with your phone number. This makes it easy for people to contact you if they find your pet and hopefully, a much quicker reunion. Vets and animal shelters can scan for chips, but collar tags are still the fastest way for someone to reach you if they find your lost pet.
Finding a lost pet
What to do if you find a stray dog? If your dog has ever gone missing, you know what a relief it would be to get a phone call from someone who’d called the number on your dog’s collar. Our kennels and cattery staff have put together some guidelines you may want to consider when thinking about how to help reunite stray dogs and their owners.
Less worry about lost pets
Microchipping your pets and giving them a lovely ID tag will give you great peace of mind.