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Worried Your Pet Will Get Lost or Stolen? Invest in Pet Identification

SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 7, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- Many pet owners take their animals for granted thinking they'll always be at their side. But even the most loyal pets can wander, break loose or become victims of theft. Owners are left heartbroken knowing that if they had made a simple investment, there could be a chance of reuniting with their pet.

"We cannot stress enough the importance of pet identification to guard against the agony of losing a pet forever," said California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) President Jeff Smith, DVM. "Outfitting a pet with a collar and imprinted tag is a good first step, but inserting a microchip is the best means of permanent identification and significantly increases the likelihood of pets being reunited with their owners."

Studies show one in three pets will get lost during their lifetimes and without pet identification, 90 percent will not make it home. When Hurricane Katrina forced the evacuation of New Orleans, tens of thousands of pets were left behind, many with no identification tags. While the CVMA recommends collars and tags be worn at all times, they can easily slip off between the time the pet breaks out of the yard and ends up in a shelter.

With National Pet Identification Week being celebrated the third week in April, veterinarians, local SPCAs and humane societies are making a strong push to educate owners about the importance of microchipping and its long-term effectiveness in identifying animals and reuniting them with their owners.

"Many owners may be fearful of microchip implants, but it is a relatively painless procedure that will not affect a pet physically or behaviorally," added Dr. Smith.

Microchipping involves inserting an electronic capsule about the size of a grain of rice under the pet's skin. The chip is embedded with a unique alphanumeric identifier that contains information for contacting the relevant registry when scanned with an electronic reader. Pet owners are given a distinctive tag for the animal's collar, which informs those who find the lost pet of the microchip implant. The tag provides a specific chip number and contact information with the recovery service's toll-free number. Most shelters and veterinarians have microchip readers.

Since the microchip cannot be seen, the average person may be unaware it is there. That's why the CVMA recommends both collar tags and microchips for pets. Tattooing is another alternative, but it is not considered as effective because the tattoo may fade over time and change as an animal grows.

Whatever method is used, the CVMA recommends identification tags include: -- Pet's name -- Owner's name and address -- Telephone numbers (day and evening) -- Veterinarian's name and number -- Current rabies vaccination and licensing information -- Health problems requiring medication

Owners also should ensure tags are updated and checked regularly in the event an owner moves or changes phone numbers or the tags become unreadable with wear.

In addition, the CVMA encourages pet owners to keep an up-to-date file with a written description of their pet that includes the animal's size, markings, weight and unusual features as well as a current photo to use for posters or to take to the animal shelter should a pet become lost or stolen.

For media interviews with a California veterinarian regarding this issue, please contact Phil Boerner at the CVMA: 916-649-0599. 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 6,000 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.

SOURCE California Veterinary Medical Association
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