Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making Sure Your Dog Has Identification Tags!

Identifying your dog’s contact information is critical for travelers. Heaven forbid your dog should get separated from you, but if she does, you want to make sure she finds his way back to you.  Two things you can do: (1) microchip your dog, and (2) visible written contact information on a tag.
Microchip.  If your dog is travelling outside of your home state, many states and countries require that your dog be fitted with a microchip.  A microchip is a small rice grain-sized pellet injected just under the skin of the scruff of the neck.  It is read by a scanner – most veterinarians and Animal Shelter facilities have these scanners.  Note that the US and Europe have different standards for microchips.  Typical American microchips are AVID, Home Again, or Bayer ResQ. 
The International Standards Organization, or ISO, has approved and recommended a global standard for microchips consistent with the European standard, however most US scanners still only read the American chip and vice versa. So, if your dog has an American chip, it may not be readable in the UK, for example. Keep this in mind if you are crossing the pond (New York to Southampton, for example).

When Asta boarded our ship, the Chief Purser greeted us to check her microchip and paperwork.  The microchip scanner didn't work, though.  Fortunately, Asta was wearing her HomeAgain tag with her microchip number - I highly recommend your dog wear this tag when travelling!  You also may wish to consider carrying a microchip scanner with you - especially if you are travelling to areas with a different microchip standard.
Dog Tag.  Sounds like a no-brainer – dog tag worn by your dog at all times with your dog’s name and a phone number.  But when you are travelling, add a few more important pieces of information:  (1) Dog’s name (2) Owner’s name (3) Owner’s cell phone (4) Veterinarian telephone number (5) local contact number.  If you are on a cruise ship, be sure to add the ship’s name, ship telephone number, ship cruise number, and your state room.
Government issued Service Dog Tag.  If your city/county offers a formal service dog registrations (per my earlier Blog Post: Qualifying as a Service Dog) be sure to get this important tag.  Again, it is a government certification that your dog indeed qualifies as a service dog, and as such is a "short-hand" way of confirming your service dog's qualifications.
Commercial Service Dog Tag.  In addition to the government issued service dog tag, a number of websites offer a service dog tag that you can purchase.  These sites often to not require proof of qualification, and so are frowned upon by some service dog purists as inadequate to prevent abuse.  That said, if you have a legitimate service dog, these tags are handy.  My mom’s service dog has a tag that says “Service Dog” in big letters, her name and her photo, as well as the ADA statement on the back.  It is easy to see, easy to read, and therefore handy to dispel the doubts of people who may not believe your dog is a service dog.

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