Living With Animals: Keeping Track of Your Pet

Ken White, Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA

July 14, 2017

Not knowing where your animal has gone, if he or she is safe… that’s a horrible experience.

Decades ago when we first brought our newborn home from hospital, one of our cats was obviously unhappy about the addition to the family. An indoor only cat, she made the Great Escape. Among my earliest memories as a dad is wandering the neighborhood, Hannah in a cozy carrier, calling “Lilly! Liiiiiiiiiiil-leeeeeee!” Fortunately, two days after she decided to teach us a lesson, I heard our sweet Lilly calling from under the neighbor’s deck. She never left home again (and, indeed, became inseparable from our daughter). 

A happy indoor cat decides to check out that bigger world. The dog runs out the door as pizza is delivered. Even the most consistent animal is going to prove occasionally inconsistent.

So make sure your animal always wears a collar with current ID (Traveling? Use your cell number!). Cat collars are designed to break off if they snag the cat to something, but collars and tags are always in fact the best ticket home. Make sure your animal has an ID microchip. Inserted just under the skin between the shoulders, this painless procedure offers a permanent way to connect finders with losers – that is, if the finder knows to check for microchips (shelters and veterinarians are good at this) and if the microchip does not fail (nothing is perfect). Collar with tag plus a microchip is common sense, not belt and suspenders.   

If a microchip isn’t techy enough, there are a number of developments on the market including apps for your smart phone which rely on GPS and other mappings. Personally, I think anything that helps is great but my comfort tends old school. Report the missing pet to your local shelter and use recent photos for flyers (and consider offering $20. to the middle school kid up the block if he can help locate your missing animal).