In these modern days there are many reasons to make sure we sufficiently mark our dogs for positive identification. It is highly recommended that you collar, tag and micro chip all of your beloved pets.
There are those individuals who make their living out of stealing dogs. We often see warnings on Face book pages or hear from our friends about vans going around residential areas looking at houses with dogs. Dogs stolen by these pet thieves are used for several of illegal activities. If you are lucky enough, they will try to sell your pet back to you for a founder’s fee. More worrying are the thieves who export the dogs to other places and sell them on at any type of market or even to puppy farms to be bred with. Some of the most unlucky ones end up as bait in dog fights.
Not all dogs are equally street wise. Though the instinct in intact dogs are to roam looking for mates, sometimes they get lost in their adventures and find it hard to get their way back home. Accidents happen and it is very easy to sneak out of an open gate or door and before you know it your pet is missing. Not planned, but it happens.
Means of identification
There are several ways to make sure your dog is identifiable. We recommend you make use of as many options as there is available. You can never be too sure and if your dog goes missing, you can use all the help you can get:
The best known out of the whole lot is the traditional pet tag. This little piece of metal comes in all shapes and sizes and also in a wide array of colours. You can pick just about any style and colour you can dream off. It is customary to have a nice decorated front, with information inscribed at the back. What should you inscribe on the pet tag? It is law in most countries that your pet should be identifiable to show who he or she belongs to. For this reason most people would either add a contact number or an address. For the sake of security it is not recommended to put your home address on the back of the tag. Rather add a phone number. Again, do not add a home number. If it is ever a case that thieves get hold of your dog, you could be harassed day and night. A mobile number is the very best thing to add. Do make sure that when you change your number, that you also change your dog’s pet tag. There is no point in having a non-existent number if your dog goes missing and someone is trying to reunite you with your furry friend by trying to ring an out of service number.
Some people are extra careful and add nothing but their contact number, citing that if someone was to know the dog’s name by reading it on the tag, it would be easier to lure the dog away from home. Whilst it is something to consider, it is generally safe enough to add the dog’s name and a contact number on the back.
It is especially helpful if your dog visits the groomers or a boarding kennel to help them out with identification and to memorise your dog’s name if it is available on the back of the pet tag.
Most pet tags come with a split ring, which is a tiny metal ring that you use to connect your pet tag with your dog’s collar. There is a special metal insertion in every collar where you are able to hook your dog’s lead on, and the split ring of the pet tag can go onto that very same metal insertion. Do check occasionally that the tag is still securely intact and that the writing is still clearly legible as some of them do tend to rub off with time.
As technology progresses, it’s becoming more widely acceptable and even law in some countries that our pets have to be micro chipped as a means of identification on top of having to be collar and tagged.
A microchip is a tiny piece of technology that is more or less the size of a grain of rice. It gets implanted into an animal with an injection with the needle big enough for the micro chip to pass through the syringe into the site where it is injected. A micro chip does not transmit any signals or personal information. All it contains is 14 digits that are unique to that individual micro chip. There are no control centre out there that is going to find your dog via a satellite and send out a rescue helicopter if your dog goes missing.
After implantation, it is up to the individual to take the 14 unique digit combinations on the micro chip and to register it with a database. Most countries have one or two main databanks and it is advisable to find out how many databanks there are and to register with all of them to cover all the eventualities.
A micro chip is not visible with the bare eye as it lies underneath the skin. If you know where and what to look for you can feel a little raised grain, but unless you have a micro chip scanner, you will not be able to retrieve the unique digital combination. It is mostly veterinary practises, dog wardens, pounds and sometimes groomers and police that would own scanners. Also breeders might keep their own scanner. So if your dog ever goes missing and is found, it is up to whoever finds your dog, to be kind enough to go and see if your pet is micro chipped. A dog that has been stolen by someone who does not want your pet to be found again, has no hope of being found because of a micro chip.
A lot of problems have been experienced in the past where for instance a breeder vaccinated and micro chipped pups before selling them on. A buyer then that is not well informed just accepts that the dog is micro chipped and is happy enough to leave it at that. The details never get updated on the data bank and the next thing the dog goes missing. When the dog lands up somewhere that has a micro chip reader and they track the number, it reverts back to the breeder who might take days to track down the owner if you are lucky enough for him or her to keep record of their litters. If no record has been kept or if you have not updated your information your micro chip is of absolute no use.
If you move country you do not need to re-micro chip your dog. You can simply register the existing number on a new database.
Though a collar and tag or a micro chip may not be a guarantee that your pet will be found if he or she goes missing, it is better to have the chance of it maybe helping, than having nothing at all to fall back on.
Collar, tag and micro chip them….you never know!