When I was 10 years old, I finally talked my parents into letting me have a dog. My dad held out for a long time: “Honey, you don’t want a dog. It’ll dig up the yard, chew up the garden hose and bite the mailman.” Eventually he consented and I chose Baron the Wonder Dog from a pen behind a pet shop.
Baron was my inseparable companion. When I started dating, he decided that his lifelong history of sea and carsickness was no longer serving his higher purpose; he never threw up in a car or boat ever again.
When I went college, he and I set out for the West in my VW bus. We spent 9 cold months in Missoula, MT. In the spring we fled the cold and landed in Seattle, where we stayed in a home of some shirt-tail friends. At 5:30 a.m. the next morning, I let him out of the house for a potty break. He vanished. The year was 1979 and the only way I knew to try to find him was to check with the regional Humane Society shelters and veterinary clinics and to create posters to put up around the neighborhood.
I looked for him every day for over a month, but I never saw him again.
I adopted Buck, a 6 month-old Shepherd – Lab from the Humane Society at the end of my search for Baron. Buck had been surrendered by a man who was 6 foot tall, slender build, balding with gray hair and who typically wore a gray business suit. How do I know? Because Buck would drag me to meet anyone who fit this description.
Buck had the typical Labrador temperament. He was very intelligent but a bit stubborn. It took us years to bond and even then there was one being in the world (two if you count the tall, thin man) who had more of his heart than I had: Blondie, a Golden Retriever – coyote mix who had the coyote temperament. She would appear like an apparition and if I failed to seize Buck’s collar quickly enough, they were gone in a heartbeat. When Blondie tired of her goofy friend, she would lead him to an animal control officer who would escort him to the local animal shelter.
Okay. So how does this relate to PetHub?
In 2010 a research team examined the frequency and duration of lost dogs and cats. The parameters for determining whether a dog or cat was “lost” was left entirely up to the owner to define.
They found 815 of the 1015 households they queried owned dogs and 14% of those dogs went missing sometime in the previous five years. The percentage of AWOL cats was just 15%.
I guess both Baron and Buck would qualify as members of that 14% “missing” set.
Where data points spread apart was in the recovery. 93% of dogs were recovered while only 75% of cats were recovered. Dogs were most often found in their neighborhood while cats wandered home at some point.
One of the differences between the conditions of lost dogs vs. lost cats was identification. Dogs more often wore identification. In 14% of the lost dog cases, this tag assisted in the reunion with their owners. Most of the cats were naked. Another factor that might have influenced recovery was that most cat owners did not check with the local animal shelter. That being said, statistics for a dog or cat being reclaimed from a shelter is dismally poor.
If we can extrapolate from this study to the entire population of lost dogs (and cats), we might feel somewhat relieved to hear that if one’s dog disappears there is only a 7% chance of never seeing him again. And although 7% does not sound like a terribly large number, if it were applied to all dogs in the US, that count would be around 766,360 — dogs never found by their owners. Baron the Wonder Dog.
But I for one am unwilling to be a member of that 7% ever again, and so both of my dogs wear PetHub tags.
On their website, PetHub reports that one in three pets will go missing in their lifetimes. Without proper identification “90% of these pets will not be reunited with their people.”
Another point in favor of an external tag is that it provides “obvious” and immediate information. In contrast, a microchip must be scanned and that requires a trip to a vet or shelter.
We hope that a person who finds a pet will wonder if the animal has a microchip and then take action to find out. I found a dog named Fred running down the highway in Okanogan back in 2007. It took me 45 minutes to catch him. He wore a blue collar — no tags. I never thought to have him checked for a microchip. Another shortcoming of microchips is that many owners forget to update the chip data when they move or get a new phone number.
Both of my Bouviers have collars with a PetHub tag. I chose PetHub for the following reasons:
- The tag is dynamic as it can be scanned by a smartphone. When it is scanned I will be notified as to where my dog was when the tag was scanned.
- The finder of my dog has instant access to information about my dogs:
a) Medical conditions (Wil has hypothyroidism and needs his medicine to maintain a non-violent temperament.)
b) Alice is 15 years old and is fragile. She is nearly blind.
- There are two ways the finder can contact me:
a) Call the toll-free PetHub number.
b) Scan the tag and get instant information that includes how to contact me.
- PetHub offers Emergency Pet Insurance which I added to Wil’s account.
I wholeheartedly endorse PetHub ID Tags and recommend you purchase an ID tag for your dog today.
Weiss, Emily, Margaret Slater, and Linda Lord. “Frequency of Lost Dogs and Cats in the United States and the Methods Used to Locate Them.” Animals 2.4 (2012): 301-15. EISSN 2076-2615. Web. 22 Dec. 2014. <http://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/2/2/301/htm>.
© 2015, Tara Felder (Please contact to re-publish this or any article I’ve written. Thank you.)