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Make sure your pets wear a collar with identification

By HELEN PALMER

K9 Corner

Getting your new puppy ready for its life in the world not only requires several trips to the veterinarian for preventative shots, teaching the youngster to accept a collar and leash and introducing house manners, but also making sure the puppy is properly identified in case he gets loose.

This is one reason that every pet (that includes cats) that spend even a few hours outdoors, where the possibility of escape through an open gate, or a hole under the fence is greater than when the animal is indoors; should wear a collar with some sort of identification.

If the dog is large enough, a flat buckle collar with a name plate riveted to it is helpful if the animal is lost. The name plate should have the owner’s name, address and phone number, and an alternate phone number such as your veterinarian, a neighbor or a pet-loving friend, just in case the family is on vacation and the dog gets lost. I do not put the animal’s name on the plate because there isn’t room and besides, dognappers really appreciate knowing the dog’s name since the dog is more likely to trust someone who calls his name.

If your pet (cat or toy breed) is so small that the nameplate is impossible. Be sure to attach the rabies tag. My first cat wandered off once and was identified by his rabies tag. Someone took pity on him, fed him and then they checked the rabies tag which gave the veterinarian’s name as well as the tag number. I was so relieved to get my big kitty back and so glad that the rabies tag was on his collar.

There are national associations for identifying your pet. It is possible to inject a microchip under the skin at the base of the neck. It looks like it would be painful for the dog, but I have had several pets “microchipped” (also called “chipped”) and in all cases the animals acted like nothing was happening. The chip has a number imprinted on it that a scanner can read. By calling the appropriate 800 number, the animal’s owner and address is available. The chip is permanent, it cannot be removed like a collar can, but there are tags with the chip’s 800 number that can be attached to the collar that alerts the finder that the animal has a microchip.

It is such a relief to be able to identify a lost dog. I adopted a senior golden retriever who could push through my fence. The two times he departed, I got calls due to his collar name plate and was able to retrieve him within an hour. Over the years I have been involved in reuniting several lost dogs and their owners — a very emotional event especially on the dog’s part. In every case the dog had tags on his collar that proved ownership. Dogs with collars and no tags are treated like strays with no owners, so be sure to get some identification on those collars.