Why your dog should have BOTH!
Most of us would agree that the one of the worst days of our lives would be if one of our dogs got out and ran away. Even when owners strive to keep their dog safe by keeping a watchful eye on them in the fenced backyard (and not leaving them outside when away from home), using leashes when out of a fenced area, and being careful about securing doorways – they may still find a way to slip away. If you have adopted a golden from us, you agreed to do all these things in your adoption contract and we hope nothing ever goes wrong, but if it does, will you be prepared?
One of the best ways to make your dog safe is to be sure they always wear a collar with tags. For the collar itself, there are many great selections available. We only ask that you please do not make a chain or choker collar a permanent collar with tags. It is the least safe combination. Now for the tags – why do we say tags and not just one tag? If your dog is lost, having multiple points of contact easily accessible on a collar will increase the chances of your dog being quickly returned to you. There are a few basic tags that you should have. First, have a primary contact tag containing your dog’s name along with your contact information such as address and phone numbers. As we are a mobile society, having more than a home phone number would be prudent. Add a cell number and you will always receive the call no matter where you are. (PetSmart currently has a tag machine that allows you to use both sides of the tag so there is plenty of room to engrave multiple phone numbers.) Second, attach your veterinary tag and/or your county license. The information on these tags will lead to records containing your contact information. Additional tags may be a microchip tag, temporary travel location tags, and special needs tags. Let’s start with a microchip tag and the value of having a microchip in your dog.
As a backup to your dog’s collar with tags, having your dog microchipped is an excellent way to provide identification. Some people think that if their dog is microchipped there isn’t a reason to keep tags on a collar. Remember, your dog must be scanned with a special device to be identified. All veterinary offices, shelters, and rescue groups have a scanner. However, if your dog is not wearing a collar with tags and is found by someone who does not have such a device, or has no idea about microchipping, they may not think to look for one. We encounter good Samaritans all the time that find a stray, try to locate the owner, but never think about scanning for a microchip. Again, this is where having a collar with multiple tags assists. Each microchip service will provide, or offer for sale, a tag to add to your dog’s collar containing the registered chip number, and the registry service name and phone number. That way, scanning is not required. A simple call to the registry service and the chip number will provide contact information. If you know your dog’s chip number and service provider, you can also create a microchip tag of your own. If you are not sure of dog’s microchip number or service provider, ask your veterinarian to scan your dog, or for our rescue dogs, call GRRMF. All dogs that come through GRRMF have a microchip. If we receive a dog already microchipped, we register it in our name. If a dog does not have a microchip, GRRMF will provide one. Each tag is registered with a primary contact of GRRMF. A secondary contact can be added for the adoptive owner’s information. The best part of having the initial contact remain GRRMF, is that it gives you a 24/7 phone number attached to a very large community of people available to assist in returning your dog. This also means you should be sure GRRMF always has your most current information.
If you travel and take your dog with you, put a temporary tag on the collar indicating the travel location and dates. Hardware stores sell tags for keys that work well. If you are camping, note the campground and site number. If you are traveling without your dog and leave it with a dog sitter, put a temporary tag on the collar with the contact information of the dog sitting family.
On a personal note, recently a friend came down from up north to visit with her beautiful lab that is not even a year old. They made the trip without a single form of ID on the dog’s collar. They thought the dog was safe because she was microchipped. I was shocked they would drive all the way to Florida with no collar identification on the dog. I’ve been working rescue long enough to know all the bad things that can happen. Most of us like to think that if someone found our dog they would give it back. All I could think of is that if she were lost, and someone found such a beautiful sweet young female, the odds were high that the person wouldn’t even go looking for the owner. The best chance is for someone in the near vicinity to find your dog and return it quickly before they have too long to think about keeping it. The greater the distance from home and the longer they have it, the more likely they will form an attachment and may never seek out the owner. If you don’t show an effort by providing collars, tags, and microchips, why would anyone else think you care about having your dog returned!
A final special thought on tags is to add one for special needs that may affect your dog if they are away from your care for too long. Items may include medication needs, seizure dog, blind or hearing issues, or severe food allergies.
So in conclusion, start with a great collar, no chains or chokers please, add tags of main contact, veterinary and/or county license, microchip information, and when necessary, temporary travel tags and special needs tags. Monitor collar and tags regularly for wear and tear, and replace unreadable tags as well as those with outdated contact information. If your dog is not a GRRMF rescue, have them microchipped. Be sure to keep your contact information updated with all organizations specified on each tag.
If you love your dog, prove it. Show it loud and clear with a collar, up-to-date tags and contact information, and back it up with a microchip. We spend countless dollars on special foods, supplements, and veterinary visits, what’s a few dollars for a good collar and some tags that could save their lives? We never want to think our dog would run away but they are dogs….first and foremost….and think with their noses and impulses and not their brains. We know better and need to do everything in our power to protect them.