April 19-25 is National Pet ID Week!
New York City is a walking city. Although there is good public transportation, New Yorkers walk around our neighborhoods doing errands at the grocery store, the drug store or the dry cleaner. We walk around other people’s neighborhoods to visit friends and go to good restaurants. Children walk to school and adults walk to work.
Everywhere you go in New York City, you’ll find people walking, many times with their dogs. In New York City, you can find dogs everywhere. Dogs are often found patiently waiting outside the bagel shop, getting a bite or two from the brunch table at an outdoor restaurant or playing with their families in the park. Lucky dogs walk to work, spend the day in the office and walk home again at night.
I was out walking to school the other day and saw something that upset me terribly, a dog out for its morning stroll off-leash and without a collar at the intersection of two busy New York City streets. What if that dog had been spooked by a car and ran into the street? Without a leash, the owner had no ability to control the dog’s actions. Worse, what if the dog had run away? How could the dog have been reunited with its owner if it didn’t have its collar and ID tags?
The news is full of stories of pets that travel hundreds of miles to reunite with their families, but in reality less than ¾ of lost dogs are returned to their owners. Pet owners can be proactive about pet identification to give their pet the best chance at being returned to them if they get lost. All pets should have a microchip implanted under the skin. This device is smaller than a rice grain but contains vital information if you and your pet should become separated. The microchip is read with a handheld device which displays a number linked to your contact information in a database. Animal shelters, rescue groups and veterinarians typically have these devices to help determine the identity of a stray pet.
A recent study about the return of lost dogs to their owners, published in the Journal of the Veterinary Medical Association, has 2 important take home messages about pet identification. First, not enough dogs have microchips, only about 10% of dogs in this study were chipped. Second, dogs with ID tags were more quickly returned to their families because the dog did not have to be transported to a facility for the microchip to be read. So before you walk your dog make sure to have both a microchip and an ID tag so your dog will be with you for its walk tomorrow. Don’t forget to microchip your cat too! Cats can often escape from our homes and be mistaken for strays, so microchipping is important for them as well. Microchipping your pet is done quickly and easily and can be a lifesaver is your pet ever becomes lost.
About Dr. Ann E. Hohenhaus
A Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Dr. Hohenhaus is certified in both Oncology and Small Animal Internal Medicine. She is a 1985 graduate of Cornell University and has over 20 years of experience as a practicing veterinary oncologist. Her postgraduate training was conducted at The Animal Medical Center in New York City, which provides veterinary postgraduate education, conducts clinical research and provides health care to over 30,000 individual pets annually. Currently, Dr. Hohenhaus serves as the Senior Medical Advisor at The AMC. She has lectured nationally and internationally, most recently throughout Japan as part of the Japanese Animal Hospital Association’s 30th Anniversary celebration. Her areas of research are vaccine associated sarcomas, transfusion medicine and canine mast cell tumors.
For more information about The Animal Medical Center or to make a donation, visit www.amcny.org.