Six simple ways to get your pet home safely

Are you prepared if your pets get lost or escape from your house? Follow these steps before your pet is missing to expedite your its safe return.

1—Identification tags 

Be sure your pet has a nametag with current contact information on the collar. Put the pet’s name as large as possible on one side. include two phone numbers on the reverse in case one is busy or unavailable. Think of trying to read the tag on a dog that you stopped while it was running through your yard. The dog won’t likely sit for you to read the tag. And a cat certainly won’t! Be sure a pet bird’s leg is properly tagged. This is an inexpensive option.

Also consider tags with GPS markers to track the pet or less expensive collars and tags with QC codes that someone who finds your dog can scan with a smartphone to find the owner and safely return the pet. GPS tags generally run between $80 and $200 and come in different designs and weights. QC tags from Pet Hub cost between $9.95 and $22.95, which is less expensive than some standard identification tags. Premium packages start at $3/month and are less expensive with longer agreements.

NOTE: SOME PEOPLE REMOVE a pet’s collar inside, but if the cat slips out or a dog takes off running without a collar, the resources below might be your only hope of finding the pet.


 Be sure that the microchip is updated with current contact information. The vet might or might not initially set up the contact information. Be sure to check the information on-line associated with your pet’s microchip. If you move or change telephone numbers, make updating your pet’s on-line file a priority. 

Shelters and veterinarians have scanners that read most microchips. Recently, a dog was returned nine years after it was lost during a move when the family who found the dog had to turn it in to a shelter. The dog was microchipped with the original owners’ correct contact information, although they had moved to another state, and the original owners drove 18 hours to retrieve Boozer, their pup.

Microchipping costs about $40, but local shelters and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Control offer specials as low as $10. The microchip is inserted between the shoulder blades, and the dog, cat, and even birds, barely feel the pinch. In the past, microchips migrated in dogs, but the placement is now more secure.


Always have a picture of your pet available. Having a picture in your car is a good idea so you can show it around the area where the pet was lost. A picture on your phone is smart, as well. Photos that you can use to create a LOST or MISSING poster are invaluable. (See Number 6 below on where to post these signs.)  Be sure to have a picture of the pet with family members. This can be useful in claiming a pet with no tags from the shelter. Remember that collars break or rip off.  Any sort of unique markings, scars or identifying traits are important to photograph and include in descriptions. These pictures will be critical in the event you must prove the pet is yours.

NOTE: Registered tattoos are frequently used to identify pets, but malicious thieves will cut off the tattooed ear or lip. If you choose to have your pet tattooed by a veterinary professional, be certain to place the permanent mark on the underside of the dog in a place that is difficult to remove.

4—Lost Pet Locator Services

Pet locator services offer varying options. All use special ID tags that with information to contact operators who are available around the clock. Some will distribute flyers to shelters and vets and e-mail neighbors, while others rely on a tag with a toll-free number to call the locator service. Most have an annual fee.

5— Alert local shelters and pet professionals

While you are searching for your pet, post flyers in the area where the pet was lost and take them to local veterinarians, groomers, rescue groups and animal control to help more people know to look for your furry family member. Then post on Facebook and ask all of your local friends and family to be alert for the pet and share the post. If you make copies at a local print shop, sometimes they will let you post the sign in their store. 

And when the pet is found, collect the signs, thanking those who supported your search.


Many people choose not to keep their pets’ immunizations up-to-date because the pets don’t go outside. But a thunderstorm, inattentive visitor or home invasion are unexpected accidents that bring sadness to families whose pets escaped. Current immunizations will go a long way toward keeping your pets safe if they are away from home without supervision.

Taking any of these steps will help your pet return quicker and more safely. Doing all of them is sure to expedite the process!

Beth Crosby