Microchips and ID Tags Work Best When Pets Have Both

Lost Pet Number 2: A Cat

Your cat never roams far, but what you don’t know is that he visits the porch of a kind person who sets out food for a couple of feral cats. The neighbor in between doesn’t like all the cats who use his vegetable beds for bathrooms, so he rents a couple of live-animal traps from animal control. When he traps a cat, he takes the animal to the shelter, where he or she is presumed feral, held for as long as the law allows, and then killed.

Your cat ends up in the trap, and the neighbor heads for animal control. He noticed a collar, but he’s so angry about the feral cats that he doesn’t care. Before he takes your cat into the shelter, he pulls off the collar and ID. Serves you right, he figures, for not keeping your cat at home. Fortunately, your animal control agency scans all incoming animals, and scans them again before they’re killed. The microchip reader provides a positive match, and you get your cat back.

I can think of many other reasons to cover your bases with an ID tag and a microchip. If your pet is stolen, for example, the first thing the thief will do is remove the collar and tag. A microchip becomes pretty close to your only chance of getting your pet back. There have also been pets who have been reunited with heartbroken owners months — or even years — after they went missing, long after they have slipped their collars, because of the information on their microchips.

The most important thing to remember about any form of pet ID is to keep your contact information current. If you move or change your phone number, update your microchip information immediately. Don’t wait, because a move is a high-risk time when your pet is more likely to slip out and go missing. And get a new ID tag as well: Many pet-supply stores have machines that make them while you wait, in five minutes or less! No excuses!

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