Four-Legged Friends: ID Tags


Whenever I see a “Do you know this dog?” (or cat) posting from Canton Animal Control on Facebook, it makes me wonder why so many folks seem to have a hard time keeping identification on their pets. It isn’t difficult at all to affix an ID tag to your pet’s collar, so why do so many Canton pet owners forego this simple safety measure?

Buck wearing his jingle-free ID tag

Buck wearing his jingle-free ID tag

I know from speaking to people that a big complaint with dog tags is the noise they make jingling against each other. I can understand that, but there are many ways to keep identifying information of your dog that don’t create noise.

A good option is a strap collar made of nylon that has your phone number embroidered right into the collar. The only issue with these sorts of collars is that if you change your phone number, you need to remember to buy a new collar. Embroidered collars can be found online at,, or even

They also make something called a “jingle free tag.” It’s a metal tag that slips directly onto a strap collar and doesn’t make a sound. That’s what I use on what is known by greyhound people as a “tag collar.” Because greyhounds need a special collar or harness for walking, most of us use a second simple collar simple to hold identifying information. (Their necks are bigger than their heads, so a normal dog collar doesn’t work, and greyhounds wear what is known as a martingale collar, or a limited slip collar.) This tag collar remains on at all times. You can order the jingle free tag and several styles of tag collar at

Permanent identification that never comes off is also available in the form of a microchip. A microchip can be inserted by your vet in seconds. They don’t cost a lot, and even though the sellers of these chips like to try and convince you to pay an annual fee (they promise to help you find your lost dog if you pay their annual fee), no payment is necessary for the chip to remain readable by anyone with a chip reader, which most animal control departments have, as well as most veterinary clinics. After a brief, ouchy moment, the chip is shot under your dog’s skin, where it remains. It’s important to follow the instructions that come with the chip — generally a web address and a serial number. The pet’s owner logs on to the website and registers the chip’s serial number with their address and all of their phone numbers. Then if your dog is lost, collar or no collar, the local animal control officer or any veterinary clinic can scan the dog, find the chip ID, and contact them for the owner’s information. There are several kinds of chip available.

In Massachusetts, your dog is required to wear a rabies tag and a license. While these tags can be used to track you down if necessary, don’t assume that because your dog has these tags on, he doesn’t need ID. I found a dog once. He was wearing a collar with no ID, a rabies tag, and a bottle opener from Boston College. It was a weekend when I found the dog and I was not able to reach the vet clinic listed on the rabies tag, so I had no way of finding his owner. I had to drop him off at animal control on my way to work the next day. They eventually reached the vet, who gave them the owner’s name. He was reunited with his dog after two days. He had to pay a fine for not having a license, as well as a night of boarding. He was nice enough to call me and thank me for looking after his dog. I asked him, “Why did you feel a bottle opener was more important than identification?” and he admitted he had purchased a tag, but never put it on the dog’s collar.

During my very brief stint as a Canton animal control officer, almost every call I got from the Canton police to head to the shelter and jump in the van and go to a resident’s home were for dogs who were found and had no ID on. One of the dogs I picked up was a stunning golden retriever. Young, clearly a show quality dog, unneutered, and absolutely no way to identify his owners. His family was very lucky that day that their dog was taken in by an honest barber on Washington Street in the center, or he might not have been returned at all as he was such a beautiful, friendly dog. I was able to speak to his owners and I asked them why they would spend a bunch of money on such a gorgeous dog but not spend an extra $4 on an ID tag. They had no answer for me, but promised to get him microchipped. I hope they did.

I’ve been so fortunate. I’ve never lost my dog, or a cat. I’ve never lost a pet at all, thank goodness. I can’t even imagine if Buck (my dog) went missing. But I always have ID on him. Always. Please take the time and make the very small investment and get tags on your dog now. If you let your cat out, you could save people a lot of time and energy by putting a safety collar on your cat with a tag that says something like, “I am an outdoor cat. I am not lost” or something like that. The only cat I’ve ever had that tried to get out of my condo wore a tag that said, “If I am outside, I am lost. Call my owner. Reward” and my phone number. Luckily, she never made it outside, but if she had, she wouldn’t end up on Facebook featured in a “This cat is hanging around my yard” post!

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avatar Posted by on Sep 8 2017. Filed under Featured Content, Opinion. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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