ID Me! part Two

by: Jennifer Oldfield (updated April 19, 2017)



In our first ID Me! post I presented the two types of permanent identification that are available for your pets.  In part Two I will go through the non-permanent forms of identification that are currently available on the market.

Essentially the non-permanent forms of identification have to do with tags and collars.  There are several different types of these available to choose from.

To begin with the Rabies tag and city licence tag that you receive both provide some form of identification for your pet.  The Rabies tag has your veterinary clinic’s name and number on it.  When a person calls the clinic and provides both the year on the tag and the ID number, the clinic can find the associated pet and owner information *(see note below) .   The other option a person has is to bring the pet directly to the veterinary clinic listed on the tag and leave it there while the owner is being located.  Most clinics will hold on to the animal until near the end of the day, but if they are unable to get in touch with the owner they are generally passed on to the Humane Society with the pet/owner’s details.  The city license database is maintained by the Humane Society and City Hall, so contacting either of these places will allow the owner to be contacted to find their pet via this tag’s information.

The second identification that most people are aware of are tags engraved with your information which is then put on your pet’s collar.  There are also places where you can get your number stitched directly on to their collar.  The down side to this identification is if your number changes, you need to replace your pet’s collar or get a new tag made up.lucky pet

collar QR

Another more technologically advanced type of tag or collar are the ones that have a QR reader feature available on them.  On the tag there is a QR scan code available along with the specific website for your pet for those without scanners.  If the person who found your pet has a scanner app on their phone (these can be downloaded for free from your app store), the QR code can simply be scanned using the app;  if not, they can enter the website information to be taken to the same page for your pet’s details.   Some companies will also add name(s) and a phone number on the tag for an additional fee.

Some QR code tags also have a limited amount of GPS information that comes with them: essentially when your pet’s tag is scanned or the profile viewed on the website, you receive a notification indicating where and when this happened.  Most companies with these tags and collars available keep and update your information for free.  Additional features can be added for a monthly or annual premium.

The Rabies tags you receive here in our clinic also have this special QR code feature to SOS pet
them.  Details are registered and maintained through the S.O.S. Lost Pets website.  Although there is no GPS tracking through the scanning of the code, there is still contact information available to someone who finds your pet which can be found through scanning the QR code or by going to the website and adding the information.  If for some reason you haven’t created your profile for the tag or haven’t kept your information up-to-date, the front of the tag has our clinic name and number on it.  We are then able to look for you via the special number under the QR code.

The final technology in collar identification are GPS trackable units or Radio Transmitter units.  Radio Transmitter units are most commonly used for hunting dogs and have a limited range on the distance from the receiver to the collar (approximately the same range of a walkie-talkie).  You can track more than one collar with one receiver and the battery life on the collars is often weeks.  Unfortunately most urban people are in need of something that gives them a great amount of range when their pet ends up missing.

There are several different brands of GPS collars available, all with varying abilities and costs.  Some collars only track a small area and some need to have a paid monthly plan to be able to track it.  The collars also have the ability to alert you once your pet has moved outside of a pre-created zone (the size of which is limited by the collar).  What seems to be the biggest drawback on these collars is the battery life: only 1-5 days (the range depending on the particular collar).  There are now several on the market that are good for small dog and cats, which is a definite upside from when we first posted this blog 3 years ago.  Besides the battery life another downside can be the cost. Although they have come down from our original post (when they were $200 on average) they are still at least $100 and up.  Plus many have a monthly fee as well.  The big pros, of course, are the alert of your pet passing the set perimeter and the ability to know what direction they have headed even if you’re not able find them while the battery is working.


Cons to both tags and collars: they can come off your pet and, in the case of some collars, be a chocking hazard if the collar gets caught up on something and the pet isn’t able to get free or slip the collar.

Ultimately my thought is: the more ID the better.  My dogs are microchipped, they have breeder’s tattoos in their ears and they have QR coded collars – which we use when we travel.  My cats are indoor only cats, but accidents can happen, and in the event they get out they are tattooed and microchipped.  Both wear special breakaway collars** that have their microchip ID tag on them, however in the event they get caught up, the collar will break open if enough pressure is applied.

I feel the biggest part of having useful ID on your pet is to ensure your contact information is current.  Be sure your veterinarian has your current address and numbers, update information with the microchip company or breed registry (i.e. CKC or AKC), if your ID is registered with your local Humane Society, be certain they are updated and if you get a QR code collar or tag, keep that information current as well.

taggProductFigure out what will work best for you and do your research if you are thinking of a GPS collar.  Take into consideration whether or not you travel and to what types of locations, whether or not you have a pet that tends to try and escape or runs when off leash.  Even if you are someone whose pet never, or almost never, leaves home or the yard, keep in mind that accidents can happen.  Have at least one form of ID for your pet to help ensure their return to you.

To our benefit social media is a hot area of activity, and there are Lost & Found pages available where anyone can post to the page.  Getting the information out quickly that your pet is lost is also another way to help get them back sooner and using social media gets an amazingly large number of eyes watching for your missing companion.

* Since we are a medical hospital your records are private and, without your signed consent, we can not release your information (even with signed consent, information is only released when you are aware of it); therefore, the finder’s contact information will be noted and passed on to the owner via the clinic.
**As an added note I personally feel that all cats (indoors or out) should only wear breakaway collars.  There are ones available that have a pressure adjustment on them, if you are like me, and have a cat who uses its back leg to break the collar off.  Since increasing the amount of pressure required, my cat can no longer remove her collar.  The reason for the special collar is that cats climb trees and jump fences and have a much greater risk of their collar catching and becoming a hanging or choking hazard.  A breakaway collar prevents either of those things from happening.
Additional information:

PetHub QR Tags & Collars

Top 13 GPS Trackers for your Pets

Lucky Pet Tags and Collars

As an added note, if you spot a missing pet and they aren’t willing to come to you, do NOT chase them, rather contact the owner if the information is known or contact Animal Control, who have more experience and equipment to catch a stray animal.  

If you wish to try and aid the recovery of a tentative or frightened pet – sit down, with your body turned sideways to the pet, put a treat in an open hand out-streched and on the ground.  Don’t look in the direction of the pet and wait patiently and calmly.  Do NOT attempt to grab them on their first thought of coming near.  Gain their trust by not reaching for them and simply letting them eat the treat and move away again.  Put another treat in your hand and wait some more.  When the animal feels they can trust you they will linger longer.  In a calm, quiet, soothing voice praise them and talk to them.  All the while, never really looking directly at them.  Gaining their trust will allow you to eventually be able to touch them and then hopefully keep a hold of them.



ID Me! part One

by: Jennifer Oldfield

Identification can make all the difference in the world if your pet ever goes missing and someone finds them.  Without any identification there is only the hope that the animal gets turned in to a Humane Society where you may be searching or they can be identified via one of the many lost and found pet sites/Facebook pages available and the owner found that way.  However, there are several options available to you for identification, so what form is best?  That will all depend on the plans you have for you and your pet.  There are two forms of permanent identification and several options on identification your pet wears.

Permanent Identification

A tattoo and microchip are the only current forms of permanent id.

A tattoo is done either by the breeder on pups when they are very young, either in the ear or on the inner flank, or it is done while under anesthetic, in the ear, most often when your pet is spayed/neutered.

The microchip can be done at anytime, at any age (although it is recommended to wait until at least 8 weeks of age) and is always placed under the skin between the shoulder blades.  It is smaller than a dime, approximately the size of a long grain piece of rice.

Pros & Cons:



(Image unclear to protect our client’s privacy)

The tattoo is highly visible when in the ear and generally anyone can read it.  When done on the flank, many animals need to be shaved to read the tattoo.  If it is a breeder tattoo it consists of a series of three characters (may be only letters or numbers & letters) then a number followed by another letter.  This information can be entered on the Canadian Kennel Club’s CANADAChip Recovery site to locate contact information for both the owner and the breeder.  The information must be entered with a space between the first 3 characters and the remaining characters.  If the tattoo is not a breeder tattoo then it may have been done by a Veterinary Clinic or by a Humane Society.  In Regina the clinics are all each identified with a letter, our clinic for example is the letter “A”.  The tattoo would be in a 3 part format:

  1. the “A” to signify being done at our clinic
  2. a number that signifies that particular patient, done sequentially from 1 at the start of each new calendar year
  3. another letter that signifies the year the tattoo was done (some letters, such as I are skipped as the may look too much like a 1)

For example a tattoo done this year would look like: A72E – this indicates our clinic, 72nd animal tattooed this year, and 2017 (the last time E would have occurred would have been more than 20 years ago, so unlikely 2 animals alive at the same time would have the same tattoo).

All tattoos done by us are then sent to the Regina Humane Society to enter in their database (if you are not sure if your pet’s tattoo is registered with the RHS, you can call them to find out).  Should an animal come in with a tattoo they can then locate the owner or contact the clinic of origin.  The Humane Society also tattoos the ear of animals that they have spayed/neutered.  They put “RHS” in the ear, this signifies they were done there.  The Humane Society also always microchips, so knowing they were spayed/neutered at the RHS means to search for a microchip.

Downside to the tattoo?  They can, like any tattoo, fade over time.  Generally they don’t, and at our clinic if it is our tattoo, and your pet is going in for another surgery we can, at no charge, darken up the tattoo for you.  If you move away, you would need to register the tattoo with the Humane Society of your new location or it is completely useless.  For the general public, although it tells them the animal has id, most people are not able to locate the information needed to find the owners unless they are willing to contact or take the pet to the Humane Society or to a Veterinary Clinic for assistance.


The microchip is a universal identification used across Canada, the US and overseas, although there are several different brands of microchips, AAHA has a Universal Microchip Lookup site that will either tell you the company the chip is registered with or if that company is not in their database, then it will tell you the top companies the chip most likely comes from.  Starting with the most likely at the top of the list, to the least likely at the bottom.

You can also search the CANADAChip Recovery site with the microchip number, however only those registered with the CKC will come up with any information.


The downside of the microchip is that unless you scan the animal, there is no way to visually know they are identified.   The location of the chip implant is also universal, however chips can travel in some patients and have been found down the shoulder or even near a paw.  When we scan an animal for a microchip we start in the universal location, but we ultimately scan the entire animal, just in case. That being the other downside, you need to have a scanner to search for a microchip and not all scanners will pick up all microchips, although generally they pick up most.  We have two scanners here, we start with the one most likely that will read microchips implanted within most of Canada and the US, then if it finds nothing we will search with the other scanner.  On a plus side, microchips do show up on x-rays.  Have your vet make note for you, if they ever do x-rays that show the microchip is not in its normal location.

crop check chipSome microchip companies provide an id piece for your pet’s collar that indicates to the general public that the animal has a microchip.  The person can call the phone number on the tag and provide the id number from the tag to identify the pet.  The microchip company will contact the owner.  With this id tag there is no need to scan for the microchip itself.

Microchips are not GPS trackable and do not provide any details other then the identification number when scanned.  So if you are looking for a way to track your pet’s location when they go missing, this is not the id that will do it.


In both cases for these forms of identification, they have major pluses of being permanent and provided you keep the database company*, the Humane Society and your veterinarian up-to-date with your information, this can be a great way to be reunited with your pet.  They are also fairly inexpensive in the grand scheme of things.

Watch for ID Me! Part Two on the several non-permanent forms of identification that are available.

*Some companies ask for your driver’s license – you aren’t required to provide it, however, because it is often one of the first pieces of your own id that you update when you move, it allows the microchip company to also keep your information current for your pet’s id.  Strongly consider including this information if it is asked.