Why Your Pet Needs a Tag and License
While most pet advocates will vouch for the benefits of microchipping (and for good reason!), it’s important to remember that a microchip is not always enough to improve a lost pet’s shot at a safe return home.
The reality is this: only about 10 to 30 percent of lost pets are returned to their owners.
However, the good news is that there are a few straightforward and user-friendly ways to keep your pet as safe as possible.
No pet owner likes to think about the possibility of their dog getting lost. But securing the proper ID tags on your pet’s collar or harness can significantly increase the likelihood of a happy reunion, especially when combined with a microchip and license.
This is why Sarah’s Pet Care policy requires all dogs in our care wear a collar or harness equipped with at least one basic ID tag.
Even if your dog is microchipped, their collar or harness should include the following:
- A basic ID tag that notes, at minimum, the dog’s name and the owner’s primary phone number (the more phone numbers, the better!).
- Your dog’s current license tag (read on for more information about pet licensing).
- A tag listing the microchip company name and phone number (and chip ID, if possible).
- A sturdy ring that secures all of the above onto the collar. As soon as you notice the ring is starting to deteriorate, make sure to replace it.
Ensure your pet’s tags remain up-to-date anytime you move, change phone numbers, renew a license, or revaccinate.
Is the constant sound of clanking dog tags enough to prevent you from using them? Simply snap a tag silencer over each one to muffle the jingles. If you and your pet live a mobile lifestyle, you might also consider trying a special travel ID tag, some of which feature a waterproof storage tube that allows you to easily change out your contact and location information as needed. With all the available options on the market and your dog’s safety on the line, there’s no reason to forgo tags!
2. Pet license
First and foremost, licensing your pet is the law in most areas of the U.S., and King County and its neighboring jurisdictions are no exception. If you are a pet parent living in King County and you have not already done so, you’ll need to purchase a pet license (or renew an existing one) on the Regional Animal Services of King County website or visit a licensing location (residents of surrounding counties can visit their respective animal services website for information).
In King County, a pet license is required for all dogs and cats 8 weeks and older, and the average license cost for an altered adult pet is $30. On the other hand, you may find yourself paying up to a $250 fine for unlicensed pets — and it is possible an authority figure will be on the lookout for licensing issues at popular areas such as off-leash parks.
Licensing your pet (and fastening the license tag to their collar or harness) offers plenty of benefits beyond simply avoiding hefty fines:
- If your dog gets lost, potential rescuers can look them up more easily by using the license number.
- A current license tag signals that your dog is rabies-free and up to date on important vaccinations.
- If lost, your pet will receive a longer care period while in animal control custody than unlicensed animals.
- The annual license fee supports local shelters, adoption centers, and other animal welfare services.
- If lost for the first time and found by animal control staff, your licensed pet will receive one free ride home instead of being brought directly to the shelter.
- When you purchase a license, you qualify for Vacation Pet Alert — a service that provides additional peace of mind while you’re away on vacation and your pet is under someone else’s care. Simply call Regional Animal Services of King County before you leave to register your pet’s location, who will be taking care of your pet, and where to reach you in case your pet gets loose.
Of course, microchipping your pet is always a wise idea. A microchip is a small, noninvasive implant that stays with your pet for life. In the event that your pet ever gets loose, an animal shelter or vet clinic can scan the chip and use it to identify your pet and contact you.
We’re not suggesting using a tag in lieu of a microchip, but rather in addition to one. This way, if your pet gets lost, you’ll always have a backup plan: whether the person who finds your pet isn’t able to take them to a vet for a microchip scan or in case the collar, harness, or ID tags fall off. Just remember to update the contact information associated with your pet’s microchip as you would an ID tag after changes such as a move.
Simply using one method or the other is not enough! A microchip plus secure ID tag makes the ideal pet safety dream team.
- Make sure your dog wears a reliable collar or harness with a securely fastened ID tag!
- License your pet via your city or county (and renew as required).
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