Keeping tabs on your tabby when you travel and pinpointing where your door-dashing dog may be is getting easier – and in some cases, going a little high-tech.
It goes without saying that all pets – whether they prefer to live a pampered life indoors or are tail-wagging and ready to join you as a travel mate – need to sport collars with identification tags that post the pet’s name and your phone number. Yes, even though your cat may vow to never step a paw outside, he could suddenly find himself in the outside world due to a loose window screen or a door inadvertently left open by say, the handyman. Some dogs with high-prey or hunting drives may slip off their collars on a walk in pursuit of a squirrel or the ice cream truck.
An ID tag should include your cell phone number so you can be reached quickly should you and your pet be separated when you are away from home during pet-friendly travel and stays at hotels.
Double up on the safety side by also booking an appointment with your veterinarian to inject a microchip into your pet in the shoulder region. This chip, about the size of a grain of rice, offers lifetime identification and contains vital info that can be read at animal shelters and veterinary clinics simply by waving a hand-held scanner around the shoulder area.
Don’t worry, this procedure is quick, virtually pain free and may not require your pet being place under anesthesia. The vet cost, depending on your locale, can range between $30 and $50. Some clinics offer special discount days, so be sure to ask to save a little money. In addition, the specific microchip company charges a nominal activation fee (under $20). Some companies donate some of that fee to animal rescue and recovery efforts.
You must enroll with the microchip company in order to activate the chip’s info. Sadly, nearly 40 percent of people forget to do this and all a shelter or vet clinic can detect is the presence of a microchip. So, please fill out the enrollment form the day your pet is microchipped.
Help for Houdini hounds has also gone high-tech. Just like you have GPS navigational systems in your car (to avoid making wrong turns or finding the closest sushi bar), there are bite-sized GPS systems for dogs that fit onto collars. If your dog leaps over the back fence or gets away from you on a trip, you can quickly locate him in real time using your laptop computer or cell phone.
No matter how cautious you may be, more than 5 million pets get lost or stolen each year. Currently, only 1 in 10 returns to their homes. Equipping your pet with these forms of ID can go a long way in improving the odds that you and your pet will be happily reunited. Don’t forget to include identification stickers on the pet carrier when you plan to travel with your dog or cat.