Pet Identification

Trish Consunji: 916-649-0599 (California Veterinary Medical Association)


Pet Identification: A Lifesaver for Dogs and Cats

Sacramento, CA – When the winter skies open up to sunshine, animals catch spring fever just like anybody else wanting to go out and play. But while springtime encourages fun, exercise and nice walks in the park, it also could spell danger for pets who can be by your side one second and gone the next.

Check out these facts:

  • More than one million pets are lost or stolen each year.
  • One in three pets will get lost during their lifetimes.
  • Without pet identification, 90 percent will not get home.
  • Overcrowded animal shelters often are forced to destroy lost pets unless they can be returned to their owners in a short time.
  • Dognappers eventually may release animals, but they may end up miles from home.

The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) emphasizes identification as a lifesaver for pets.

“Unfortunately, many stories of lost or stolen pets don’t end happily unless there is a simple way of identifying a pet,” said CVMA past-president Ron Faoro, DVM. “The CVMA recommends that animals wear collars and tags and have microchips as a means of permanent identification.” Identification tags might include:

  • Pet’s name
  • Owner’s name and address
  • Telephone numbers (day and evening)
  • Medical problems requiring medication
  • Veterinarian’s name and number
  • Current rabies vaccination and licensing information

Pet supply catalogs and stores, veterinary offices and animal shelters often have forms to order tags.

Owners can speak to their veterinarians about microchipping, which involves implanting a tiny electronic capsule (about the size of a grain of rice) under the pet’s skin. Microchips can be used on dogs, cats, ferrets, birds and other companion pets. The veterinary clinic or the owner sends contact information to a registering agency. When a pet is found, any agency with a compatible scanner, including animal care and control agencies and veterinary clinics, can quickly identify a code that links the animal to its owner through a national database.

The CVMA acknowledges the limitations of each type of pet identification. Tags and collars can get lost or removed or become unreadable, but when someone encounters a lost pet, they first look for a collar tag. If a person finds a lost animal without a tag, they should take it to a veterinarian or animal control agency to be scanned for a microchip. A microchip cannot be seen so the average person may be unaware it is there. That’s why the CVMA recommends both collar tags and microchips for pets. Tattooing is a third alternative, which is not considered as effective because it may fade over time and change as a young animal grows.

In addition to tags and microchips, the CVMA offers these tips on making sure your pet is kept safe:

  • Do not let your pet roam–keep your dog on a leash during walks and confined when at home.
  • A pet trained to respond to your commands will be much safer.
  • When filling out lost reports or crafting a newspaper ad, flyer or poster, remember to include the following:
    • Photo of your pet
    • Pet’s name
    • Pet’s breed
    • Pet’s sex
    • Pet’s color
    • Additional information: when and where it was last seen; descriptions of what your pet was wearing (e.g., collar); any medications it needs.

Finally, when your lost pet is returned, have your local veterinarian examine it thoroughly for injuries or signs of illness.

To access past CVMA press releases, visit the CVMA Media Center in the News Room at


The California Veterinary Medical Association is the largest state veterinary medical association in the United States, with more than 7,000 members. Founded in 1888, its mission is to serve its membership and community through innovative leadership and to improve animal and human health in an ethically and socially responsible manner.

© 2020 California Veterinary Medical Association

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