July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month, so named because there is a spike of lost pets following the fourth of July holiday. Here are six crucial tips to prevent your pet from getting lost:
1.) Double up on microchips and collars. While vets and animal shelters alike sing the praises of microchips, microchips do have some downsides. Namely, not all vet offices and shelters have microchip scanners, and someone who picks up your collar-less pet may not know to take it to a vet to scan for a microchip, so they’ll assume it is homeless. Most pet stores now have kiosks where you can make ID tags inexpensively, and if you or your pet hate the jingle-jangle of metal or plastic ID tags, silicone options are now becoming available. Furthermore, some places offer ID tags with QR or other smartphone codes that are “the best of both worlds” because you can fit a lot of contact information in the QR code (see more on that below).
2.) Put proper information on your pet’s ID tag. Just your pet’s name, your name, and a personal cell phone number should suffice. Your home address is nice if you can fit it on the tag but not necessary, as someone who picks up your pet can call you to find out your home address. Also, when you annually renew your pet’s rabies shots, ask your vet if they can make a tag that shows your pet is up-to-date on its vaccinations.
3.) Make sure your pet’s collar is comfortable. When putting a collar on your pet, make sure you can fit two fingers between the collar and your pet’s skin if your pet is a large or medium-sized dog, one finger if your pet is a cat or a small dog. Any tighter and you risk choking your pet, any looser and your pet could easily slip out of its collar. That being said, ensure that the collar has a breakaway option (usually a plastic buckle, pictured below) so that in the event that your pet’s collar gets snagged on something, it can get out of its collar without cutting off its breathing.
Also important to note: flea collars are NOT acceptable substitutes for regular collars! They do not have breakaway options and wearing them for too long will hurt your pet’s skin!
4.) License your pet. A pet license registered in your home county makes for a quick and easy way for officials to identify your pet and bring it back to you. A pet license, mandatory for pet ownership in most counties, has your contact information and your pet’s medical records, such as vaccinations and if they’re spayed/neutered. Regulations from county to county may vary, but often vets will contact the licensing office when you vaccinate or spay/neuter your pet and you receive the paperwork in the mail. Renew your pet license each year when you get your pet’s rabies booster.
5.) Consider GPS. It is a common misconception that microchips are GPS devices. However, there are GPS or radio collars that can help you track your pet’s location should it get away. These attachments usually run about $70-$100 and can be ordered from Amazon.com.
6.) Take precautions to prevent pet theft. The most commonly stolen dog breeds are small, purebred breeds such as Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians, and Malteses. The American Kennel Club reports that dog theft is on the rise because dog thieves steal purebred dogs to sell or breed them, but also because dog thieves go after supposedly “aggressive” breeds such as pit bulls, Doberman pinschers, and Rottweilers to train them as fighting dogs. Let your dog sleep inside the house with you, but if that is not an option, set up a fence (that your dog can’t jump over or burrow under) and alarm the fence’s gate to alert you if someone is approaching your dog. When taking your dog for a walk, resist the urge to tie him to a fire hydrant or tree outside and run an errand. The average coffee shop coffee is made in 90 seconds, not including line wait time, but it takes a dog thief less than 45 seconds to untie your dog and walk off with it. Also, NEVER leave your pet in a car while you run errands, not only so the car’s rising internal temperature doesn’t kill or seriously injure your pet but also because a car thief could easily turn into a pet thief.
Should the worst happen: Keep an up-to-date picture of your pet in an emergency kit in case you have to make “Lost” posters. Check in daily with local shelters and vet offices to see if anyone has turned your pet in there. Announce on social media that you have a lost pet and get your friends and family to share the post. Make sure your phone always has a good charge in case someone finds your pet and tries to contact you. We at 1 Fur 1 hope you never have to go through this tragedy. Stay safe, kitties and puppies!