Our pets are so precious to us, and we all want them to be safe with us. In spite of this, the number of wanted pets that are lost each year numbers in the millions. No one intends to be slack about keeping up with a pet, either. Most of us take precautions and try not to leave our dogs or cats outside unattended or off lead. When considering other types of precautions to take, be sure to examine the options with care. Let’s take a look at some of the choices.
Escape Proofed Homes
There are certain things you can do to be extra careful with your home and yard so that a pet never gets lost, and for most of us, this is the first line of defense. It is great to have secure fencing that cannot be damaged and has latches and locks. Rocks can be placed at the base of a fence to prevent dogs from digging holes. It is important to make your home as secure as you can, but most of us do as much as we can afford, and we realize that there are still risks.
A microchip is an electronic chip that is tiny enough to be implanted under the skin of a dog or cat. The chip can store information about the pet, and a veterinarian can scan for a chip to get the information from it if a pet is found. Sometimes people think that microchips include tracking abilities, but an ordinary microchip does not. The chip only contained a number that allows someone to look up the number and find what has been stored elsewhere. Microchips have to be injected by professionals, so there are some health risks and in some locations they may be costly. They must be updated frequently when pet owners travel. They must also be updated each time the owners move to a new home or change their contact information. Unfortunately, outdated chips are a common issue even when lost pets are found. The microchip data must also be stored with a reputable company. If a company goes out of business and the data is lost, you may not even realize that your pet is unprotected. A chip should be approved by the International Standards Organization to be secure when traveling abroad, so if you have an inexpensive or older chip, this can also be an issue. A study of 7700 stray animals showed that only 52% of microchipped dogs were reunited with their owners, and the numbers were lower for cats.
Pet Store Tags
Many pet stores sell tags that will hold a waterproof slip of paper or a metal tag that can be engraved. These often have the owner’s telephone number, the address, and the pet name. These can be useful for short term, but they aren’t ideal for longer-term use. Anyone who pets your dog on a walk or at the dog park can see your information. Your privacy isn’t protected, and you can’t be sure that the people you interact with are trustworthy. Even if you are very careful, a tag can quickly become useless if your contact information changes. If someone finds your pet and is lucky enough to get in touch with you, you will also have to explain where you are located or find the other person. Using a tag of this sort is just risky in most cases.
GPS Trackers and Radio Tracking
For those who have the funding, it is possible to utilize a GPS or radio tracking device to follow your pet if the pet is separated from you. These devices are fairly expensive and must be attached to a collar, so for smaller pets, they can be uncomfortable. These rely on a battery that has a fairly short life, and they can be detached from the collar, so they have some limitations in practical application. If a pet is taken away in a vehicle or roams far from home, there may not be a way to pick up a signal. They require the up-front costs (usually over a hundred dollars) and a monthly fee. While the technology is interesting, it may not be the most realistic option for most situations.
Another type of tag is a custom tag that is created, especially to help you reunite with your pet. These tags often come with specialty services that go even further than a microchip database. For example, the people at LocatedPet offer a tag that is printed with a QR code and a pet ID that is assigned just to your pet. The tag has nothing that reveals your personal information to any passerby, but if your pet is separated from you, the QR code on the tag can get you and your pet back together quickly. When the pet finder scans the QR code with a smartphone, you instantly receive a text showing you a map with the pet’s current location. The tag is always up-to-date, and there is no wait for a veterinarian to scan anything. This kind of service is one of the newest technologies in pet location and engages the individual community to reunite pets with owners.
Research conducted by ASPCA shows that the best modern protection is a specialty tag due to affordability, low risk, and broad coverage. Microchips and GPS tracking haven’t done as well as expected, partly due to the limitations.