Dog Identification: Chips and Tattoos verses Licenses

The trusty old dog license is quickly being replaced as the primary method of identifying lost dogs by microchips and tattooing. These new identification procedures have experienced a huge rise in popularity over the past couple of years, but there are some very serious downsides to these methods that pet owners may not have considered.

Many dog owners resentfully comply with local licensing regulations thinking that their money is being wasted. After all, why make your pet wear one of those annoying metallic license tags when you can have them implanted with a microchip or branded with a special identification number? If those are your feelings as well, you might be surprised to learn some troubling facts about alternative identification methods not being widely discussed.

Microchips are not a universal solution to dog identification. Many smaller breeds can be scarred by the process or experience health problems as a result of the implant. As a Chihuahua Breeder, I have heard more then a few horror stories about Chips and Chi's. Tattooing is another non-option for small dog owners because it can and does disfigure the animal. But it isn't the process of chipping or tattooing that bothers me as much as the results of what can and has happened when chipped or tattooed dogs are stolen.

Thefts of small or valuable dogs are on the rise. A great-looking Chihuahua with or without papers is going for well over five thousand American dollars today in China. Stolen dogs are also in demand right here in the United States. Puppies and mature dogs that produce them can be worth a lot of cash. But what happens when a thief who is familiar with the tattooing or implantation process becomes aware that a dog they've stolen has been chipped or tattooed? The answer is, too often, the unthinkable.

In a perfect world, your cute and cuddly pet accidentally gets away from you and is later found by a pet lover or animal control officer whose only concern is reuniting owner and animal. In such a case, chipping or tattoos work. But so do dog licenses! If a chipped or tattooed pet falls into the wrong hands, it's unlikely that the animal will survive the ordeal anyway because it will have no value. If an honest person finds your dog, the license is there to reunite animal and owner.

Although most jurisdictions unfairly target breeders and those who choose not to alter their dogs with higher fees, dog licenses have become a necessary evil in a world of irresponsible pet owners. With parvo, rabies and other pet diseases on the rise, many areas have been left with few options except to require proof of various shots along with license fees to insure a healthy pet population in their region. But along with higher fees and more vaccination regulations, many licensing agencies now offer perks to offset the charges and requirements.

A number of jurisdictions have simplified the process of reuniting lost dogs and their owners. Many animal control will first attempt to deliver a lost animal with a license back to it's home before taking it to an animal control facility. This saves money all around and is a terrific perk for those who were wise enough to license their pets. Before you go hi-tech with your dog, make sure you investigate all aspects of the procedure and eventual results. Contact other pet owners who have already chipped or tattooed their animals for feedback. Look for people who have had success retrieving their dogs through those identification methods and those who haven't.

Remember, your dog is not a car that should automatically be LoJacked because it has value. Your pet is a living thing that is affected by what you do or have done to it. Think before you act, don't do it because it's trendy and consider the old tried and true method of a Dog License as a means of identification.

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