Watch Tip Classic: Identification is Essential

Posted on January 29th, 2012 by Anna Nirva

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Watch for collars that are too loose or too tight, and that don’t have ID tags. Pets deserve better from their families. A roaming pet without identification is at high risk for being picked up as a stray and might even be euthanized. Roaming pets can travel long distances. Reasonably-priced ID tags are available nearly everywhere. Speak with the owners or just do it anonymously. You may save a life.

Why Not Provide Tags for Adoptions?

Shelters and rescues often provide microchips for adopted pets, but they are not visible to human eyes; scanners are needed. The specific microchip technology used can be a factor in linking pets to owners as well. And even if a microchip is identified, the owner information can be out of date, causing a whole new set of hoops for the current owner. Collar tags have some important advantages: they are immediately visible by neighbors, assuming the pet allows their approach. A roaming pet can be returned home without aid of animal control. Responsible pet owners provide BOTH microchips and tags.

Could the animal welfare community provide tags at the point of adoption? Remember the most likely time for newly adopted pets to escape is right after adoption. A common refrain is “I was going to get my tags on Monday” but the dog or cat escaped on Saturday soon after arriving at the new home. Think about the pets: they don’t know they have been adopted! They believe that they are in the wrong place and must get back to where they were.

War Hero Dog Died for Lack of a Collar and Tags

Target’s family didn’t put a collar and tag on her or get a microchip implanted. They didn’t prevent her from escaping from her yard. And the neighbor who found Target without wearing any identification of course had no idea who she was, so called the pound. She was picked up by animal control and her photo was posted on the internet.

Her family found her photo but did not check the web site to learn the weekend hours that the pound was open. They came on Monday to pick her up. At the pound earlier that morning, a careless employee was performing her routine euthanasia duties and picked Target by mistake, not following the organization’s process. “Oops.”

Who was Target? Ask Oprah Winfrey, whose show Target appeared on. In Afghanistan, three stray dogs prevented a suicide bomber from detonating a bomb in the middle of a military barracks, and the bomb went off harmlessly near the perimeter. One of the dogs died from injuries suffered from the blast. The other two dogs, later named Target and Rufus, were brought to America by a charity to live out their lives in the land of plenty, where they have been widely celebrated for their roles in preventing a tragedy. Read more here.

Do you see one mindless assumption after another here? These are shameful mistakes that manifest a careless, uninformed regard for animal life by Target’s family and the pound. If she had been wearing a collar with a phone number, the neighbor who found her running loose would have had her back home quickly. Target should be alive today—no excuses.

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