Monday, March 14, 2011

My dog never gets out – right! Help your pets find their way home.

Three days. That's the amount of time your lost dog has before he or she is legally someone else's property. Bet you didn't know that. The provincial Animal Protection Act and City of Regina by-laws are very clear about ownership. While it seems a little harsh, it makes sure that animals are cared for rather than homeless.

Time and time again animal shelters hear the same story, “I didn't get a license because my dog or cat never gets out.” All it takes is once, and you've got a problem. That's why identification is so important – it's your pets best chance of finding their way back home. In Regina it also increases the number of days that your pet is your property from three to 10. There are lots of identification options with lots of pros and cons, so it's best for your pets to wear a bunch:

  • Tattoos - anyone can see that they're dealing with an owned dog. However, over time, they become difficult to read. And, if you've got a “used” dog who has already been tattooed, contact the veterinary clinic who did the original tattoo so they can update their files with your contact information.
  • Microchips are very permanent. However, they must be read using a scanner so they're not accessible for Joe Public to easily check. As well, some times the chip travels from the insertion point to other parts of the body, so they can be missed even by those who regularly use the scanners.
  • City licenses – typically connect your dog with the their most current owner contact information. However, they can fall off, so it's important to make sure they're tightly hooked to the collar. As a side benefit, they often they include a “get out of jail free card” saving you lots of money if your pet gets out and turns up a shelter.
  • Store-bought ID tags that contain name and contact numbers are great for people who live in areas without licensing bylaws like me. They're easy to read by anyone.
  • ID collars – because your dog's name and your phone number are embroidered onto the collar, they're easy to read. (Using a sharpie marker on a plain collar works too.) However, the collars themselves can fall off especially if your dog looses weight, or if it's loose.
  • Rabies tags – because this vaccine is highly controlled, this extra tag can lead your dog back home.
You can be proactive by keeping a file on each pet that contains all of their information - identification markings, health records, photographs, etc. A more high-tech option is to register your pets in advance on PetLynx. They connect lost and found dogs to owners, animal shelters, municipal animal services, and others. By creating a profile for each of your pets in advance, should they ever become lost, you won't waste time searching for their vital information and photos, you can simply change their status to lost and be connected to matching found dogs. They offer a free seven day trial, and have different upgrade packages.

If you lose your pet, be proactive – quickly! Because animals roam, it's important to contact your local and surrounding area humane societies and municipalities. By having your pets wear lots of identification, checking in with municipalities, and doing your own lost dog posting, you're more likely to help your pet come back home.