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Pet Identification

happy little dog running through the grass

Although it’s scary to think about our pets getting lost, it’s an important topic to address. Cats and dogs slip away, are tempted to wander by squirrels or their own nose, or get scared and run away all the time. According to the ASPCA and HomeAgain®:

  • Without ID, 90% of lost pets will not return home.
  • Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year.
  • About 649,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners.
  • Only 26% of dogs who come in as strays are returned to their owners, and less than 5% of cats who come is as strays are returned to their owners.

With these facts in mind, how do we ensure that ours pets are returned if they get lost?

ID Tags. All cats and dogs should have ID tags, rabies vaccination tags and city or county license tags. You can never have too much identification. ID tags should include the owner’s name, address, phone numbers and the pet’s name. For cats it is especially important to use a breakaway safety collar or a collar with a short elastic strip. This allows them to escape if their collar gets caught on something. Collars make it easy for neighbors and municipalities to contact you easily if they find your pet.

Microchips. While collars can be an effective form of identification, the simple fact is, many pets get away by “slipping” their collars. Collars can also break or be removed, leaving your pet with no permanent form of identification. Taking the added precaution of microchipping your pet, provides a permanent form of identification that cannot be lost or removed. Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are implanted by injection, under the skin, and over the shoulders. They are a very safe, lifelong and permanent form if identification. The chip has a unique 9, 10 or 15-character number read by a scanner. Nearly all shelters and most veterinary hospital have scanners and routinely scan all strays on intake.

From the American Veterinary Medical Association Website: “A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time.”

It is important to understand that a microchip is not a GPS locator. It can only be activated by a scanner, not located by a satellite. More information can be found at:

Remember, your pet cannot have too much identification!