OK, I know I’m a week behind but that might actually be a benefit since many people are too sleep-deprived and headachy on Jan. 1 to really take this seriously. And it is an important topic! What am I talking about? The need for every pet to have on an appropriate well-fitting collar with a current, readable ID tag (and license as required) and an up-to-date registered microchip! January 1 has been designated as “check your pets collars and tags” day but we can stretch it to this weekend, so you still have time to comply.
Did you notice I didn’t just say your pet needs a collar and tag? There were several important adjectives included that are equally important. What is an appropriate collar? For cats that means a safety or quick-release collar. Lots of people hesitate to put a collar on their cat because they go outdoors and climb things and they worry about the cat getting caught. When was the last time you saw a cat skeleton hanging from a tree? So it’s certainly not a huge issue, but not to minimize the concern since there is a kernel of truth there, companies have come up with solutions. So your cat may lose a collar (or two) but at least there is a chance that someone finding your pet has a way to contact you and return the animal. For dogs it means a flat, rolled or martingale type collar – never leave your dog unattended with a choke chain (read the name again) or pinch collar on. They are designed to be used only when you are walking your pet.
Well-fitting? Check your pets’ collars for sign of wear and tear. You should be able to comfortably slip two fingers under it (same for dogs and cats). If your pet has gained (or lost) weight over the past year the collar may no longer be fitting comfortably. We see collars that were put on puppies and a year later are choking tight! Collars that are too loose on a cat could end up caught in his mouth, so looser is not necessarily better. Just like for Goldilocks, not too loose and not too tight – they need to fit just right!
Current and readable ID tag – have you moved recently? Cancelled your landline phone? Are the tags scratched up and worn to the point of not being readable? Take a minute to check them out! We offer free personalized ID tags to residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati so there is no reason for every pet not to be sporting a shiny new tag! It’s an easy way to keep your pet safe and shows the world that there is a caring person connected to the animal. Studies have shown that more people are likely to help out a cat wearing a tag since they won’t just assume it’s a feral. And it could keep your pet out of the shelter if you give a concerned neighbor a way to contact you directly.
I compare ID tags and microchips to seatbelts and airbags. The tag, like a seatbelt, is the first line of defense. It makes it easy for someone to help get a lost animal back home. No special equipment needed, no need for a trip to a vet or shelter, all a person has to do is make a phone call and voila! A lost pet is reunited with her family. The microchip is the emergency back-up, much like airbags. You actually hope they are never needed but when they are you are thankful they are there. But as magical as microchips are (small radio chips with a unique identifier number that is injected under the animal’s skin) they are only as good as the information in the national database. It is so important to keep that information current! Some chip companies give you access to your file so you only have to go online to update your info. There is one semi-universal database that is free and will allow you to register any brand of chip. It is the first place we look when a stray with a chip comes into the shelter – go to Foundanimal.org and register your pets’ chips today! What? Your pets aren’t chipped yet? What are you waiting for? They are also free for all pets of current Rohnert Park and Cotati (city limits) residents – and only $10 if you live elsewhere. Consider it our New Year gift!
Bark After Dark – a dinner and auction to help the animals! Sat., Feb. 22, 6:30-10 p.m. Tickets now available at Tinyurl.com/BarkAfterDark2020 or at the RP Animal Shelter. Come enjoy a fun evening and support the Animal Shelter League!!
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.