dog sitting in the street alone

Can My Pet Be Identified and Returned Home To Me?

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It’s every pet parent’s worst nightmare: To arrive home after a long day at work and let the dogs into the backyard only to realize ten minutes later that the meter reader left the back gate open. Now the dogs are having a blast exploring the neighborhood, but they have a ten-minute head start when we finally start looking.

This is a scary scenario, but it’s a little less scary if we can answer YES to these questions: Are my dogs’ tags still on their collars and readable? Do they even wear collars? Did I update that micro-chipping information when I moved? If someone finds my dogs, would they be able to return them to me?

It’s very important for us to make sure our pets are always wearing proper identification because we never know when an emergency situation will arise. Next week, April 17-23rd is National Pet ID Week and this is the perfect opportunity for all of us to make sure our pets can be identified and returned to us in these all too common situations. Here are a few of my favorite ways to ID our dogs and cats.

ID Tags

An ID tag is our first line of defense when our pet goes missing. It is the first thing a Good Samaritan will look for if they find our lost pet, and it is super easy for them to just be able to make a phone call and plan to meet up with us to return our lost dog or cat.

A black dog with an ID tag on

ID tags are necessary even for indoor cats and dogs. Accidents happen: gates are left open, cats slip out the front door, and dogs may become disoriented after a car wreck on the way to the vet and bolt.

We should also remember to check our pets’ ID tags regularly to make sure they are still legible and that they’re updated with our current information. In fact, I just had to make my Annie a new tag because hers was too scratched to read my phone number.

If we move or get a new phone number, then we need to make sure we update our pet’s ID tag, also. We can even consider putting a second phone number, one of a friend or family member, on the ID tag as well in case we cannot be reached for some reason when our pet is found.

Shop ID tags with Hollywood Feed at any of our locations. Pet ID tags are the quickest way for lost pets to be identified and returned home. For this reason, Hollywood Feed will donate an ID tag to a local shelter for every tag purchased in their stores. This means that once a shelter dog is adopted, he will always be able to find his way back to his forever home.

Well-Fitting Collar

If we have an ID tag on our dog or cat, but their collar is too loose and comes off, then the tag won’t serve its purpose. We should make sure that our dogs and cats’ collars fit them well (but not too tightly).

We can also write in permanent marker or have our phone number embroidered on the collar itself. This will provide extra protection in case the ID tag comes off of our pet’s collar.

We should also check our pet’s collar for frays and tears regularly. Damaged collars are more likely to break. (Cats should always wear break-away collars for safety.)


microchip scan of pet, dog, with gloved hands

Another great way for us to keep up with our pets is by getting them micro-chipped. This is quick and painless and can be done at our vet’s office or at micro-chipping clinics and events that are held regularly.

If our pet becomes lost and the ID tag is missing from his collar, then a Good Samaritan can easily take him to almost any shelter or vet to have the microchip scanned. Then the information that you used to register the microchip can be found easily.

This is why it’s so important for us to keep our phone number and address up to date on each pet’s microchip, or else the microchip will be useless! I like to set a reminder on my calendar to check the information once a year.


I don’t have any experience with this, but we can now get our pets tattooed on their ear, stomach, or inner thigh with a number that can then be matched up to our information in a database! That’s pretty neat, and with a tattoo (as with a microchip) there will be no ID tag or collar to fall off our dog and go missing.

Again, making sure we keep the information in the database up to date is the most important part, otherwise, there is no point in having the tattoo done.

Be Prepared

Keep a good, up-to-date photo of your pet on your phone or computer. This will come in handy if you need to make lost signs for your neighborhood, post a photo on Pet Finder and other similar sites, and circulate your pet’s picture and last seen site on social media.

Woman putting up a lost dog sign.

Keep a list of local shelters and vet offices and their phone numbers. You can call around to see if your pet has been turned in, and to ask them to keep their eyes open for your pet.

Do you know what to do if you find a lost pet? If you want to be that Good Samaritan that returns lost pets to their families, then read up on what you need to know here!

I think that best practices are for each of our pets to have two forms of identification at the very least. An ID tag and a microchip are what I use for all of my pets, but the more forms of ID the better. I would make sure to have an easily visible form of ID like a tag and then a form of ID that cannot go missing, like a tattoo or microchip. Read more here about how to prevent losing a pet.

Now that we know what we need to do to keep our pets safe and to make sure they can be returned to us, let’s check our dogs’ collars, get our cat that new ID tag and finally make that micro-chipping appointment!

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