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How Important is Identification for Pets?

By July 6, 2017November 23rd, 2021Standard

Did you know that in 2012, only 5% of stray cats and 26% of stray dogs that entered the Canadian shelter system were reunited with their owners? These shockingly low reclamation rates were largely due to a lack of proper identification on these pets. Conversely, 95% of animals with visible identification were successfully reunited with their owners.

Pet identification comes in many different forms, the most common being microchips and collars with tags. Ear tattoos were commonly used last decade, but are less common now. Ideally, each pet should have two forms of identification.

Here are some tips and facts about ID that you may find helpful:

  • Permanent ID is vital. Many missing pets are found without their collars. Some manage to get their collars off, others break or are removed, and some pets escape the house while they’re not wearing them.
  • Microchips are a great way to identify your pet. They cannot be lost or stolen and they never fade. Having a microchip implanted by your vet will allow animal control, veterinarians, and shelters to quickly identify you as the owner of your lost pet.
  • Microchips are most common in cats and dogs but can also be used to identify rabbits, birds, reptiles and farm animals.
  • Visible ID is an important method of identification and should be used in conjunction with permanent ID. Visible ID is the easiest way for a neighbour or passer-by who might find your lost pet, to return him to you quickly.
  • A safety (quick release) collar with tags is an inexpensive way to provide basic information such as your pet’s name and phone number. If your pet has a medical condition, consider providing a medic-alert tag in addition to your basic info.
  • Keep your information up to date. Whether your pet has a microchip, a tattoo, or a collar with tags, making sure that your contact information is current is the best way to ensure that your pet is returned to you as quickly as possible if lost.
  • Every pet should have some form of identification. Whether your pet spends most of its time out on the town with you or lounging at home, every pet should wear ID. The unexpected, including natural disasters, can happen at any time. Even indoor-only cats should have some form of ID; microchips are a great option for them.
  • The BC SPCA’s Pet Registry is open to all pet owners. For a small fee, you can register any form of pet identification (municipal license, microchip, or tattoo) into the centralized database. Learn more about it at