Even though it’s nothing new, too many dogs have been found wandering busy roadways as of late, most with no collars or identification tags. Some have happy endings, and others not so fortunate.
While a German Short Haired Pointer, obviously lost, was recently found wandering Road 223 near the Bass Lake turnoff, a Great Pyrenees was darting in and out of traffic on Road 426. One had followed a car out the driveway, and the other decided to roam, digging under the fence (unbeknownst to her owner, who was at work). Fortunately, both were rescued before being hit by speeding cars, and thankfully, because both had tags, they were returned safely to their homes.
However, that is the not the case for many. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, fewer than 2% of lost cats and only 15-20% of lost dogs are ever returned to their homes. In Madera County, the number of lost dogs returned to their homes is dismally less at 5%.
“It’s a very sad statistic,” Kirsten Gross, Director of Madera County Animal Services said, “especially when there are so many readily available options for identification. ID tags, microchipping from any vet or at the shelter for $20, but licensing is one of the best ways to keep your pet safe. If we find a dog with a license, we make every effort to get the dog back home.”
It’s important that dogs wear collars at all times, because, even with proper fencing, there’s no guarantee your pet won’t escape. A secure yard or enclosure is a must for all dogs, and they must have shelter, food and clean water when left outside. Tying a dog to a stationary object for more than three hours at a time is against the law.
Sometimes, even when a dog is found collarless, the rescuer isn’t sure how to go about determining if the animal has been microchipped. To find that information, the dog must be taken to a vet for scanning.
“One dog lost Feb. 14 was just reunited with the owner,” EMCSPCA President Sharon Fitzgerald said. “The dog was picked up by an elderly person, who probably didn’t know to look for a chip. When this woman died, the family took the dog to the vet for a check-up and the vet checked for a chip. After all those months, the owner was surprised and elated to have her dog returned to her.”
Dogs escape out of curiosity, because of frightening noises (like thunder), because they’re bored, or just because they can. This can lead to being hit by a car, wandering miles from home, being hurt by someone, or because of the confusion, the animal may become easily frightened and bite someone.
“As well trained as some dogs might be, curiosity can get the best of them. That old dog that never leaves the porch may just decide to play chase with a squirrel or deer. How many times do we see postings on Facebook about a dog or cat that never leaves the yard but somehow is now lost and not wearing a collar, or has a collar with no ID,” Fitzgerald continued.
It’s important to check ID tags every so often because the lettering can wear off and become unreadable over time. Embroidered collars with name and phone number, available online at a reasonable cost, offer an alternative. If that is not an option, a permanent marker can be used to write the phone number on a nylon collar. ID tags are available at most pet stores, and come as hanging tags or with rivets so that they are less apt to be lost.
Dog licensing is required by both state and local ordinances.
The EMCSPCA offers microchipping at a discounted cost of $25, which includes lifetime registration. Microchipping is done at Hoof ‘n Paw Veterinary Hospital. Call (559) 683-3313 for an appointment.
For embroidered collars, see etsy.com; or https://goo.gl/1QzHH3.