Dog Tag or Microchip? How about both? Three methods of identification for dogs and cats include the traditional collar and tag with phone number and name of pet, and also tattoos and microchips. Pets need more than one form of ID. Because even if the dog tag and collar come off, the microchip isn’t going anywhere, and a shelter or vet can scan it. Even the animal control people can do a limited scan. But remember, the average person doesn’t know how to find a microchip or think to look for a tattoo. That’s why you need the collar and dog tag too for identification, and to advertise the fact that this dog belongs to somebody who cares. Dogs do get out and wander away, no matter what precautions you employ. An unidentified lost dog has a high likelihood of being taken to a shelter and euthanized. A Los Angeles study showed that 30% of dogs who were euthanized were unidentified. (PetPlace.com)
Microchips in laboratory rats have been known to cause cancer. “At this point in time, we believe that the likelihood of a pet being lost and possibly euthanized because he cannot be identified is way higher than the chance of a tumor,” PetPlace.com states.
No Dog Tag, No Microchip. “Slick the Volunteer Dog.” 1986.
Look, there is a puppy in the yard in the pouring rain. I open the door and she comes up to me whimpering. No collar, no dog tag, just an adorable beagle mix puppy. We dry her off, and the boys and I pile in our blue Taurus station wagon (remember those?) and drive through the neighborhood, looking for lost dog flyers, looking for someone looking for a dog. We even stop at several houses and the boys run up and ask if anyone has lost a dog. No one has. We go home. After running an ad with no results, we keep her, and the boys name her “Slick” as in wet from the rain. Also, pretty “Slick” the way she volunteered to be our dog. She was probably dumped–in a neighborhood right next to a busy highway. She lucked out when she found our yard.
Now She Has a Dog Tag. Slick, “The Dog Who Ran Away.” 1988.
Slick is a wanderer and a hunter. She proudly brings baby rabbits to the door that I have to raise by eyedropper until they’re old enough to fend for themselves. (And they are not the least bit grateful. ) She is found at the neighbors on top of their picnic table eating all their food while they go inside for ketchup. One day she gets in an irate neighbor’s trash and they call the cops. Slick denies everything, that doggy delinquent. She wears a collar with a dog tag for rabies, but somehow the dog tag with her name on it fell off. Our bad.
And one day she doesn’t come back. She is reported to have been seen at the gas station. (Across a horribly busy street.) We drive and walk the neighborhood. We make posters and put them on lamp posts everywhere. We put an ad in the paper. Two days later, the Indianapolis humane shelter sees our ad among the lost dog listings, and discovers they have a dog that matches her description. Some kind soul picked her up and took her to the shelter. Dad/Bob goes to pick her up and bring her home, and that’s the end of her wandering. From then on, she is staked. And identified.
Lost Dog with Dog Tag and Microchip: “Spitz the Swimmer,” 2005.
One day I leave the screen door open for some reason, then get busy in the kitchen. When I turn my head to look, a stranger-dog, big, white and wet, is sitting there smiling at me. Never saw him before in my life. I get to him before he drenches everything, hook him up to a leash outside and give him some treats. He has obviously been swimming in the lake. Fortunately, he is wearing a dog tag with his name and a phone number. I find out later he also has a microchip. (Which is good, because as we know, dog tags fall off.) I call the number on the dog tag and the owner says “Where is he now?” Apparently, this is not the first time Spitz has gone on an outing, because he has learned to defy, dig under and wiggle around all forms of fencing. So far they had always been able to retrieve him. Soon Spitz’ owner arrives in some kind of van, opens the back and Spitz jumps in happily as if to say, “I wondered when you were gonna get here.”
“Pedigree Pup.” No Dog Tag. Possibly a Microchip, and Possibly No Future, 2007
This one broke my heart. A beautiful, well groomed cocker pup came to my sliding glass door in the rain. (There must be a sign on my back door in dog language saying “Come in for free treats.”) I brought him in, fully expecting him to be well identified. But no dog tag, no collar, nada. It must have come off, because I know somebody has taken good care of this baby. Somebody who is probably heartbroken too. But he is a fiesty young fella, perfectly at home peeing on the carpeting, yapping at Sir Pooch, requiring constant supervision, and turning my house into chaos.
I take a picture of him, and make up quick “Lost Dog” posters. I don’t have a cage so I rig up a bed for him in the warm garage. Give him food, drink, radio, and leave the light on. He cries and whimpers, but I have to restrict him for an hour or two while I go to the store and put posters up. When I come back he has practically shredded the door from the garage into the house. It is ruined. Separation anxiety of the most expensive kind. I’m calling shelters, cocker rescue groups, anybody who might know who lost a cocker pup. No luck. And I cannot keep this dog. He needs 24/7 training and a cage I can’t afford. Also, Sir Pooch hates his guts, which adds to the tension.
I put Pup in the car to go to the shelter. He sits up straight, behaves beautifully, and looks with great interest at everything going by. Suddenly he is the world’s classiest puppy and I am so sad. When I get to the shelter, I pray his owners think to look for him there. The shelter plans to scan him for a microchip. Back in my neighborhood, I take down all the posters because the rain has smeared all the ink. I call the shelter to follow up, but they’re closed. I’m sad for days.
May I See Your ID Please?
Now and then on a rainy day, I look out the glass doors toward the lake, and wonder if some poor wet lost doggy is going to come to see me. I just hope he has a dog tag. And a micro chip.