After receiving a phone call last night from someone who had just found a loose dog with my phone number on the tag, I was reminded of a blog I’d started and never finished. The dog, a former foster, also wore rabies and license tags on a dangling collection of tags on her collar. The caller said “She has lots of tags on, but yours is the only one I thought would answer tonight.” In a matter of minutes, she was back in her owners arms. But no, this is not a lesson in putting my phone number on your dog’s collar. But close.
Not long ago I found myself repeatedly lecturing some friends at my office (yes, more than one and you know who you are) about their dog’s not wearing their collars at all times, I feel inclined to broaden my audience for this important topic. I haven’t climbed up on my soapbox in a while and have missed the view. This is not one of those emotional stories that will bring my readers to tears but rather an educational one that I hope will maybe save a life or two and some worry. With that sort of inspiring lead-in, I’m certain readership of this blog will be an all-time low, but I’m going to put it out there if for no one’s sake but my own because I feel so strongly that you must always have collars and ID tags on your dog!
Assuredly I’ve heard the innumerable reasons as to why your dog isn’t wearing it’s collar. A few of my favorites….
- You don’t like the sound of the tags jingling.
- The collar messes up the hair around the neck.
- You prefer your pet naked (the dog being naked of the collar…not you).
- Your dogs play and wrestle with each other and end up chewing on each other’s collars and they get looking raggedy.
- You once heard that you should never leave a choke chain collar on a dog unattended (TRUE) and that’s the kind of collar you use to walk your dog.
- Of course there’s the “we just gave the dog a bath and forgot to put the collar back on” excuse that is often touted as the cause of the collarless.
- An old classic – “my dog never leaves the yard.”
- A new classic – “my dog has a microchip.”
- One of my own personal oldiers but goodies is “the barbed wire fence keeps snagging my dogs nylon collar and I can’t find it.”
- And last but certainly not least “my dog doesn’t like his collar.”
I’ll elaborate on these excuses more later but want to explain first why I’m so adamant about dogs wearing proper identification all the time.
The first reason is probably the most obvious. With proper identification, it is much more likely that your dog will be back home to you quickly. Saving you worry when someone a block away finds your dog and can call you within minutes. Rather than the finder having to scan the neighborhood in search you or waiting for you to knock on their door, they can be calling you. Rather than calling every vet in town that will answer or driving your stray dog to their local shelter, they can just call you!
Take heed, people are more likely to stop for and go much further to help a dog with a collar and a tag as they have less hesitance to get involved as that tag goes far to relieve the concern of getting “stuck” with the dog they’ve found. Even I get excited about the stray with the collar (especially a clean on) trotting down the street and a sense of dread when I see the collarless dog on the loose. Both need help for sure but my gut feels differently about each simply at the sight or lack of a collar and tag.
While the license tag and even the Rabies tag can eventually provide identifying information to allow for an eventual reunion, the vet’s office could be closed and many people do not realize you can search (in Wood County anyway) an online license database to find the owner. So relying upon these tags is not without merit but I’d much rather get my dog back tonight rather than waiting a sleepless night until my vet or the County Court house opens for business. Wouldn’t you?
Beyond wanting to help you forgo a fretful night of sleeplessness, my reasons for wanting a tag on your dog goes far beyond your personal welfare. It may save the life of another dog. Allow me to elaborate.
Here’s a common example. During a thunderstorm, your usually well-behaved dog who would NEVER leave your yard, is frightened by a storm and takes off out of your door…collarless. While you scour the neighborhood, a good Samaritan has already picked up your dog and is kindly driving it to our local shelter. While you continue to pound the pavement in search of your dog thinking he must be holed up somewhere nearby waiting out the storm, your dog is actually walking into our shelter. While you worry and wait for him to return but concede if not, you’ll call the shelter in the morning, we’re trying to figure out where to put your dog in our crowded shelter.
If it’s the busy season…spring, summer, early fall…when we are always overflowing with animals, what this means, is some other dog will have to be euthanized to make room for yours. BUT had your dog been wearing that collar and tag, we’d be making that phone call to alert you (if the finder hadn’t already done so) that we have your guy and knowing that you’ll soon be down to retrieve your beloved pet, we could avoid entirely the ugly and needless making of space.
Now don’t get me wrong, tomorrow when you call to see if your dog is in our shelter, we’ll be happy you did. But the dog that died to make room for yours….well I suppose I don’t need to explain how he’ll feel and how our staff will feel knowing that if only yours’ had had a tag how things might have been very different for that other dog, who gave up his kennel and his life for yours.
Regarding those pesky collar problems, a few suggestions.
For the jingly tag problem, there are collars (mostly leather) with space for a riveted flat tag, or woven collars that your can have personalized with your identification information, or just purchase a plastic tag (less noise for those jingle sensitive pet owners). If all these seem to costly, write your name and number with a Sharpee to a regular nylon collar. It’s not pretty but it sure is quiet.
For those that think a collar is messing up the hair, there are quality rolled leather collars that help to avoid this problem.
For those that just like your dogs naked, I’m sorry I don’t have a solution short of an ear tattoo for that and I won’t recommend that either. Just get over it.
For the multiple dog household with wrestlers in your midst, a snuggly fit collar will help with that and again suggest leather. Harder to chew through. All collars should be snuggly fit by the way to avoid getting caught on objects.
And for those that don’t want to put a collar on a wet dog, again, just get over it. A collar won’t be ruined by some wet hair. Nor will the dog.
Unless you live in a neighborhood or area where microchip scanners are in every household (or a microchip scanner application is readily available on every cell phone, …ah ha, an idea!) relying upon the microchip alone is insufficient and certainly can delay your pet getting back home. Great for proof of ownership but invisible to the naked eye and a tag will expedite your reunion.
Last but certainly not least, the fact that your dog may not like wearing a collar is like saying that your child doesn’t like wearing a seatbelt. It’s for their own good! Ensuring the safety of your pet should weigh more heavily on your decision-making than the fact that your dog may be briefly annoyed by a collar. He’ll learn to like it and if not, he’ll have to learn to take it off himself. And when and if he does, please let me know….I’ll want to see the video of that.
Until then, please ensure your dog is wearing a visible, secure and legible collar and tag at all times. And you, wear your seatbelt too! If I’m going to climb all the way up here on my soapbox, I might as well make the most of it!