Is your dog or cat wearing a collar and tags?
Research shows that 80 percent of pet owners believe it’s important that dogs and cats wear personal identification tags, but only one in three pet owners say their pets always wear them. The importance of pet tags was highlighted last week with news of Willow, the calico cat who turned up in Manhattan five years after she went missing from her Colorado home. She had been embedded with a microchip as a kitten, which carried information about her owners 1,800 miles away.
While the story had a happy ending, veterinarians say it’s also a cautionary tale about the importance of pet collars and tags.
“Willow’s story points out why microchipping is a good thing, but shouldn’t be the only thing you do,” said Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of shelter research and development for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “Willow was lost for five years. If she had been wearing a simple collar and ID tag, she might have gotten home the same day.”
To study whether the use of pet tags can be increased, Dr. Weiss and A.S.P.C.A. researchers in Oklahoma City conducted a study in which veterinarians and adoption centers placed collars and ID tags directly on cats and dogs. The group tracked 109 owners of dogs and cats who had been fitted with collars and tags during clinic visits or the adoption process.
Before the intervention, only 14 percent of the animals studied had been wearing an ID tag, but two months after visiting the vet or leaving the shelter, 84 percent of the animals were still wearing their tags, according to the research, published this month in the journal Preventive Veterinary Medicine.