by Myles Chadwick

At Emancipet we are always looking for innovative, cost effective ways to do this work better. Sometimes the ideas we hatch lead to big programs that take on lives of their own, but more often they lead to a series of little innovations that become woven into the fabric of what we do every day. This is about the latter – a few little tweaks that lead to a better outcome for the people and animals we serve.

In animal welfare we all feel that identification is important. But that mindset is not always the case in the communities that our clients live in, where there are few if any pet stores, or veterinary clinics. If your clinic or shelter is anything like ours, you see animals coming in on lengths of rope frequently, sometimes with a collar, sometimes with nothing at all. Many years ago, we got tired of trouble shooting this issue from animal to animal, and we decided to plan for it, and then some.

Here is what we came up with:

  1. First things first – we love microchips, we always recommend them, and we have free programs available that make it as easy as possible for people to say “Yes, I want one!”. Of course, not everyone will say yes, and even if they did, a free roaming pet with a collar and tags is less likely to get picked up in the first place.
  2. Every dog and cat should have a collar (with tags) to signify that they are “owned”, and that is very easy to accomplish. We sell branded collars in our lobby and we offer them to clients whose animals are not wearing one. If they decline, we do not push the issue- we keep plain black collars on hand in all sizes just for these occasions. When our technicians are administering services to the pet, we simply fit her or him with a collar and send it home with the client, free of charge. This is relatively inexpensive, and it is something that is great to tell your donors you are doing.
  3. Most of the clients that come to us for spay or neuter surgery, or for our healthy pet services, get a rabies vaccine. Rabies vaccines come with a tag – Eureka! So several years ago we shopped around and found the right combination of tag engraving machine and rabies tag so that (with some minor customization to the tag machine) we can now engrave the owner’s information on the back of every rabies tag that we issue. And we do; It takes a little extra time and we had to test a few systems that would work for staff, but we have been going strong with this for years now and clients love it.
  4. Of course not every single client that comes to us needs rabies, so for those rare few who do not need rabies, and who do not have a tag on their pet, we will issue a free engraved tag with their info (we sell them in our lobby too).

There you have it: No One Leaves Naked! Every pet leaving your clinic or shelter has multiple forms of ID on them to ensure they always get home for dinner. None of these are earth-shattering in their scope, cost, or genius. However, when you implement them all you will increase the likelihood that an animal in the community will be able to be taken home, instead of to the shelter. You may even start to create some social change inside communities where collars and tags are not the norm.

For more great ideas and tips like these, join us for Beyond Spay/Neuter or Turn Up the Volume this January!


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