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Can you imagine these scenarios.

1) You need to vacuum and clean the house today. Your dog “Fluffy” has never been a fan of the vacuum so you put her outside in your safely enclosed yard while you do your chores. When you go to let her back in the fence seems to be lifted slightly in one corner and Fluffy is no longer in the yard. You frantically look all around the neighbourhood but you cannot find her anywhere.

2) Your black cat “Midnight” is watching you bring in your groceries from the stairs near the front door. You make several trips back and forth from your car to the kitchen. About an hour later you realize Midnight is not sitting in your lap while you watch TV. Could he possible have slipped out the door while you were bringing in groceries?

These are very common occurrences. Some pets are “lost” because owners allow them to run free and are aware that their pet may leave their property. However, the majority of pets escape from their property accidentally. If something like this should happen, the easiest way for them to be reunited with their owners is if they have some form of identification on them.

The 2 most common forms of identification are:

A collar and tags

Pets can be identified from a personalized tag which may include the pets name and owners telephone number and/or a rabies tag and number which allow the owner to be traced through the records of the veterinary clinic which gave the vaccine. A collar and tags allows pets to be reunited with their owners without having to be taken into a veterinary clinic or animal control facility.

However there are some cons:

1) Many pets, especially indoor only cats, do not wear collars at all times

2) Collars can be lost in the escape process or worse get caught on things which may present a choking/strangling hazard (this unfortunately is quite common in outdoor cats not wearing breakaway collars).

3) If a pet is stolen the identification can be quickly and easily removed.

A Microchip

A microchip is a small capsule with an individual number placed into the area under the skin of the pet using a needle. Special scanners are able to read the microchip number under the skin of the pet. A free database is kept which identifies the owners contact information associated with that individual microchip number. A microchip is a permanent form of identification that cannot be removed in the escape process or by another person.

The cons of a microchip include:

1)Microchips can be implanted in any animal at any time but the needle is relatively large and some animals do have some minor discomfort during the brief process. This can be avoided by microchipping young animals while they are under anesthetic for spay/neuter surgeries.

2)A microchip scanner will be needed to identify the chip and locate the owners. This generally requires the pet to be taken to a veterinary clinic or animal control facility.

At North Heritage Animal Hospital we believe having both forms of identification is ideal. Please remember that breakaway collars in cats can help prevent choking/straggling situations as noted above.

Dr. Peter Kotzeff's little terrier "Jet"

On a sunny Saturday several winters ago Dr. Kotzeff took his 2 dogs cross country skiing on one of his fenced in farms. Jet was not wearing a collar at the time.

While they were out an Amish Horse and Buggy went by along a near by road. Jet loved a good chase and was able to squeeze under the fence and start down the road after the buggy before Dr. Kotzeff could catch him.

Dr. Kotzeff raced back to the vehicle with the other dog and drove in the direction that the the buggy (and Jet) had been heading. When he was able to catch up to it the driver said that Jet had only followed him a brief while and he was not sure which way he had gone.

The local area was searched, neighbours called and animal control checked. There was no sign of Jet that day or the next.

On Monday morning Dr. Kotzeff received a call from a resident in Kitchener. They had been up on vacation in the Grey Bruce area and while on their way back to the city had found a little dog. They picked him up and took him home as he had no apparent ID on him. They gave him a bath, bought him toys and food and named him “Eddie”. Their neighbour suggested they take “Eddie” to a local vet and have him scanned for a microchip before planning to keep him. His chip was found and Dr. Kotzeff was contacted. Jet was picked up in Kitchener later that day.

If Jet had not been microchipped “Eddie” would still be living in Kitchener.

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