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National Pet ID Week

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AdamB1995 (Adam Buzzo) [Flickr]
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Losing a pet can be traumatic for both owner and animal, but if your furry friend has some reliable ID it greatly increases the possibility your four-legged companion will make its way back home to you.  Check with your veterinarian or local pet store about options for having your pet microchipped.

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Just today I saw a Facebook post – a dog’s picture, with someone asking if anyone knows whose pet it might be. Sometimes those posts help an animal – one of the lucky ones - find its way home. Statistics show one of every three pets becomes lost in its lifetime, and most rarely find their way home. Many end up in animal shelters, but those with identification are much more likely to be reunited with their owners.

There are two popular forms of identification for pets. One is a collar with a tag, which works pretty well for dogs. (I’m not much of a fan of collars on cats – I worry they might get hung up in a tree and not be able to get free.) The tag on your dog’s collar should include information that would help someone contact you, probably with a phone number. Another collar option is the GPS collar, which allows you to locate your wandering pet day or night.

The other popular form of identification for pets is the microchip – a small computer chip about the size of a grain of rice, implanted at the base of the animal’s neck between the shoulder blades. It contains a unique number that can be read by a scanner at a shelter or a veterinarian’s office. That number is registered in a database that contains the owner’s information to be contacted in the event the animal is found. If you have your pet microchipped, make sure your contact information is up to date with the registry.

One advantage of the collar and tag is that it can be read without any special equipment. The drawback is that collars and tags can come off, and then the pet has no ID – unless the owner also had it microchipped.

Collars and microchips are not just for outdoor pets. Almost any dog may get free of a leash, and almost any cat might slip out a door that was accidentally not closed or latched.

This has been National Pet ID Week, an opportunity for every owner to consider what you can do now to make sure your best friend is always able to find its way home, when you’re speaking of pets.

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Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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