Appropriately the month with The Worst Holiday for Pets (at least in the U.S.) is also Pet Loss Prevention Month. Yes, many animals do go missing during the fireworks of July 4th but (‘duh’ alert) pets can go missing any time during the year for many reasons (duh.)
There are a number of things people can do to help their pets get back home safely if they do get lost. I’m sure any reader of pet blogs knows the basics but just as a formality (and to have some bullet points) I’ll reiterate them.
-Prevention: The best way to get your pets back is to try to make sure they don’t escape in the first place! Making sure your yard is secure, having them on a good sturdy leash and harness on walks, and working on door dashing and recall are all a lot simpler (and less traumatic) than trying to find them if they get lost. Now, before I start sounding like I’m the Mary Poppins of pet safety (“Practically perfect in every way.”) I’ll have you know that each and every time my dogs have gotten away from me it’s because I’ve neglected to do at least one, usually two of those things mentioned above!
-Tags: Along with a collar, this is the bare minimum in a dog’s minimalist dress code. Like when Mom put your name on your underwear, tags with at least a contact number will help get butts back where they belong. From my own experience I recommend a solid metal tag with a robust loop. Since tags are in constant motion (at least when your dog is) the loops can wear thin from constant grinding of metal on metal. Avoid tags with frames, as the important part of the tag can come loose, leaving you with an empty decoration on a nameless dog. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way…twice.
Again speaking from experience, try before you buy, or at least return before you engrave. Hershey’s latest tag is a cute little number made to look like a name badge, but it’s all plastic, something I couldn’t tell when it was in the package, and I don’t have high hopes for its durability.
If you don’t find any tags that fit your bill at your local pet store look on-line. Over at Spencer the Goldendoodle there is a write up of some interesting and highly durable looking tags she found on Etsy. I might buy these for my guys and keep them on their collars as backups.
-Microchipping: Sticking computer chips in earthling bodies isn’t just for UFO aliens anymore! These RFID chips contain an ID number that can be read by a scanner at a vet’s or animal shelter and help get your wayward critters back to you. All three of my dogs are chipped, and while they’ve never been lost long enough to have need of them, if they ever did get separated from me they would have an even better chance of getting back home.
What about the cats, you ask? Well, They’re mostly homebodies and when they have gotten out they’ve stayed very close by. Flickinger had been chipped because I took him to the same veterinarian as the dogs and had him on a care plan where chipping was part of the package.
-Trackers: At the highest end of the pet retrieval technology spectrum (at least until Lost Dog Teleporters come along) are the electronic trackers.
These are collar mounted devices that relay your pet’s location to you. There are a number of devices, most work off an app on a smartphone, finding your dog’s position using cell tower triangulation and letting you know the approximate location of your pet. Others are standalone units that track your dog using GPS. I have no experience with this second kind of device but if you live, or take your dog to off the grid, out of cell range places, a dedicated tracker would seem to me to be the way to go.
A way NOT to go (in my opinion) are devices that use Bluetooth to track. These Bluetooth devices are very short range, so would be pretty much useless for trying to find an animal that has run off. So unless you have a cat that likes to hide in the house, or a particularly hyperactive clam, don’t use Bluetooth devices to find your pets.
The tracker I have used on all my dogs, which I will talk about in more detail in further installments
is was called Tagg. It is the first type of tracker, using cell phone towers to give the approximate location of your pet and sending that data to your smartphone. I bought my first after Hershey’s Great Escape, which I will write about next time.