Identification for a traveling pet is a necessity. All pets need identification, even if your pet resides completely indoors. Your pet may be scared, confused or excited by circumstances beyond your control and it is vital that he or she can be identified and returned to your family.
Regardless of any other identification your pet may have, he or she should be wearing a properly fitted collar at all times. Not only is your pet’s name available on the tag for anyone to see, it’s also easy for anyone call the contact on the collar and the collar itself can be used to restrain your pet if necessary. Not having one can be costly – animals with no discernible identification may be impounded or even destroyed if no owner can be located.
Identification Tags. These should have the pet’s name, your name and up-to-date contact information in case someone finds your pet. Your phone number should include the area code. While traveling, attach a tag with your holiday contact information so you can be quickly reached if your pet is found. Ensure that they are attached to a properly fitted collar and, more importantly, that your pet is wearing the collar all the time. A scared or excited animal can slip away in an instant!
Keep your license and vaccination tags on the collar as well – they will be useful to shelter staff and veterinarians and, at the very least, they send the message to everyone that your pet is registered to an owner and not simply a stray.
Tattoos. These are placed in a pet’s ear, and the pet must be under general anesthesia for the procedure. The tattoo traces back to a registry with your information. They can fade with time, so if you have chosen this option be sure to inspect your pet’s tattoo regularly. This option can also be useful if your pet loses his or her collar, but there is no easy way for the person who finds your pet to identify him or her. There are many registries, so be sure to pick a reputable one. One benefit to tattoos is they’re a permanent visual identification of ownership – some shelters will delay the destruction of unclaimed animals with tattoos.
Microchips. These are tiny implants approximately the size of a grain of rice. They contain an identification number and your contact information is stored in a database. Many shelters are equipped with scanners for microchips. Like tattoos, this option is useful when a collar and ID tag are absent but there is no easy method of identifying your pet for an average person. One drawback to this method is that the microchip is a relatively new identification method and the technology isn’t yet universal. However, it is gaining ground fast.
It’s also smart to carry a recent photo of your pet and to make a list of his or her identifying characteristics. (How would you describe your pet to differentiate him or her from other animals of the same breed?) These will be helpful in the event that you and your pet are separated.
The best identification solution is the combination of multiple methods. With any form of identification, the most important thing is to keep the contact information updated. Out of date information is not just a hassle – it can compromise your pet’s safety and well-being.