Safeguarding Your Loved Ones: Preventive Measures to Protect Your Pets from Loss
The Furry Friends Lost & Found section is designed to be a resource for people who have undergone the trauma of losing a pet, and to provide an outlet for those who have rescued strays and want a chance to reunite them with their caretakers.
But there are also some precautions pet owners can take to help insure that their loved ones don't become lost, or at least increase their chances of recovery if they do.
The very first line of defense to protect your pet from getting lost is with a tag. Of course, your pet is supposed to have a rabies tag, and in most cases that's plenty. Vets and shelters keep rabies tag information in a database, and owners can usually be found that way. But there are good reasons to supply more than a simple rabies tag. Many dogs will be suspicious of strangers, not come when called, and who can blame them? A tag with the dog's name and the owner's contact information can cut the retrieval time down significantly. More importantly, if your pooch has health or diet issues, it could help a rescuer avoid doing something inadvertently harmful.
Personalized tags can be found at most pet stores, but pet owners also have several different tagging registries to choose from.
Microchipping is one of the best ways to make sure your pet will be located. Microchipping has the advantage of working even if your pet's ID tag gets lost. The disadvantage is that someone has to recover your pet and have them checked for the microchip to be of use. Nevertheless, the success rate for microchipped pets is high.
Check the directory here at Tallahassee Pet Net. All veterinary clinics and many of the animal service organizations listed here offer microchipping services.
GPS, Facial Recognition, and Other Methods
And then there is the wonderful world of GPS tracking. This is a great option--especially for people in rural areas--but it's also uniformly the priciest. The most common providers of GPS collars and gear are Tagg, the RoamEO (both use collars and provide tracking devices), and the Garmin GTU (also used by athletes). Consumer Reports tested the aforementioned three and gave a pretty good rundown of their pros and cons here.
There is also the SpotLite, which uses an iPhone instead of a proprietary device for location, and the GeoDog, which does the same for Android.
These devices have the added benefit of NOT being dependent on a rescuer. For someone who lives in the country this can be crucial. However, like collar tags, they risk being lost or removed. But it's an added layer of protection, well worth it for people who live in rural or sparsely populated areas.
Finding Rover is a new service that uses facial recognition technology and a cellphone app to locate missing pets. it's an intriguing idea with a lot of potential but at the moment it relies solely on both finder and owner having registered with their service to be of use. Also, it's only available for iPhone at the moment; no word on when or if they plan to branch out to Android or others.
There are several services that offer to register your pet's information in a central database for retrieval in the event they become lost. Some are purely charitable, and free, while some sell merchandise and pet gear to support their services. The key factor to keep in mind with all of these services is that they operate nationwide, and rely heavily on their members as pet finders. This means they are probably of little use in the short-run, but if your pet stays missing for longer than a week they could provide an added layer of protection.
So there you have it. Nothing is foolproof--unfortunately--and even the best-laid plans can go awry. But with a little precaution and preparation pet owners can not only minimize the risk of losing their pet to begin with, but can exponentially increase the chances they'll be recovered if they do. And if you're like me, you'll do everything in your power to keep your family intact. It's a cruel world out there, no place for a wandering dog or cat. Stay safe.