April 2: Every Day is Tag Day

Losing a pet is a nightmare for any pet owner, but pets with ID tags and microchips are much more likely to find their way home to their loving family.

–Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Society

The American Humane Society is credited with the introduction of Every Day is Tag Day. Why did it create this event? Because even though you may think your pet would never run away or otherwise get lost, the reality is that it can happen to any pet. And the best way to avoid the heartache of permanently losing a pet is to tag and/or microchip them.

Lucy_TagsAccording to a study reported on by Adopt a Pet, in the over 1000 households randomly surveyed, 14% of dogs and 15% of cats were lost at least once in the past five years. Of those lost pets, 7% percent of dogs and 25% of cats were never found. That’s 153,000 dogs and 645,000 cats that are lost each year and are not recovered by their original owners.

Adopt a Pet also shared what the data showed about how missing dogs and cats were found. Some of those ways, especially for dogs, included searching the neighborhood and checking with a shelter. For cats, another way included simply waiting for them to return home. However, ID tags or microchips were also responsible for 15% of dogs getting home. As for cats, only one owner of the 1000 surveyed reported finding their cat through its tag or microchip, but Adopt a Pet points out that, “Two thirds of the lost cats who were not found did not have any identification … If as many cats were wearing ID or chipped as dogs, perhaps 15% would also be reunited with their owners.”

If you have a pet other than a dog or cat, don’t get the idea that none of this applies to you. Bigger animals such as horses and smaller animals such as rabbits and even guinea pigs can all be microchipped. In addition, birds can be microchipped, but the smaller their size the more caution that’s needed. Finally, while I couldn’t find any data on the numbers of pets lost other than dogs and cats, a wide variety of companion animals have at one time or another been reported lost through Lost Pets of Lancaster County. All pet owners, regardless of the species of their pet, should talk with their veterinarian about their options for tagging or microchipping their pet.

The American Humane Association offers these tips to “make every day tag day”:

  • Make sure your pet wears a collar with a current ID tag, rabies tag, and city/county license. Include a contact name, address, and daytime and evening phone numbers.
  • Keep your pet’s licenses, ID tag, and microchip current. Make sure to update all of the above if you change your address or phone numbers.
  • When moving or traveling, place a temporary tag on your pet with the phone number of someone who knows how to reach you.
  • Remember that even indoor pets need tags. Many strays in shelters are indoor pets who escaped and got lost. In addition, a higher percentage of cats stay missing because people tend to assume that a cat seen outside is an outdoor cat. Something to consider is that if a cat was found with a tag that displayed a distant address, there would be a greater chance that it would be considered lost.
  • Most pets who have been adopted in recent years have been microchipped by the shelters.

According to The American Humane Association, microchipping “provides an additional layer of assurance in the event that the pet’s collar and tag fall off or are removed.” Microchipping involves embedding under the animal’s skin a tiny electronic capsule that emits a unique code that can be scanned and looked up in a database to find its owner. There are many databases where you can register your pet’s microchip ID to increase your chances of reuniting with your lost pet. Moreover, most shelters check for microchips when an animal is brought to them.

Every Day Is Tag Day is officially celebrated on the first Saturday of April. The holiday recognizes that there’s more to responsible pet care than just providing food, water, and shelter. There’s even more than obtaining medical treatments and offering enrichment. Pet care also includes tagging and microchipping your pet.

Losing a pet is a nightmare for any pet owner, but pets with ID tags and microchips are much more likely to find their way home to their loving family.

–Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Society

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