Spay Neuter Network is committed to responsibly ending pet euthanasia in North Texas shelters in our lifetime. But we can’t do it alone.
As our lifesaving partner, SNN wants to make sure that you and your pets are prepared for whatever life throws at you! That’s why we provide our Lifesaving Network members with the information they need to keep all members of their family safe and secure.
You help Spay Neuter Network save lives, and we want to help you keep your pets safe!
- Microchips: The Most Effective Form of Pet Identification
- Disaster Preparedness for Your Pets
- Organizing Your Pet’s Important Documents
- Providing for Your Pet’s Care in Your Will
No matter how responsible and careful you are as a pet parent, your pet could still get lost. Sadly, it happens every day. Someone leaves the door open too long, a portion of your fence falls down, or a leash snaps and suddenly your best friend is missing. Accidents happen, which is why microchipping your pet is crucial, and in some cities (like Dallas), mandated by law!
Many of the same situations that result in your pet going missing can also result in them loosing the identification tags they wear on their collars, leaving them out in the world without any form of identification — unless they’re microchipped! Microchips are the single most effective form of pet identification because microchips don’t fall off or scuff until they’re unreadable.
What is a Microchip and How Does it Work?
A microchip is a small computer chip about the size of a grain of rice that is implanted under your pet’s skin between their shoulder blades. The chip is encoded with a unique identification number — it does not house your personal information nor does it track your pet’s location like a GPS — so privacy issues should not be a concern.
When your pet is found, they can be taken to an animal shelter or veterinarian to be scanned for a microchip. When they are, their unique identification number pops up on the screen of the scanner. Armed with the unique ID number, the staff call national microchip registries which connect the ID number with the contact information you’ve provided to them and you receive a phone call!
Best of all, most cities give their animal control officers microchip scanners so that they can scan the pets the moment they find them and return them to your home without Fido or Fluffy ever ending up in the shelter!
What is the Microchipping Procedure Like?
Microchipping your pet is an easy, safe outpatient procedure similar to a vaccination! The chip is implanted under your pet’s skin using a needle and takes only moments. Millions of pets have been microchipped and complications are very rare and typically minimal.
Your pet can be microchipped at your vet, or you can come to one of Spay Neuter Network’s clinics during walk in hour or visit one of our vaccine clinics to have it done. At Spay Neuter Network, microchipping costs $16.50 without spay/neuter surgery or $15 when you alter your pet.
Who Should Have Their Pets Microchipped?
The short answer is everyone. Even if your pet is an indoor-only animal or has never been lost, it is critical that you have them microchipped. Many cities, such as Dallas, are beginning to require you mircochip your pet and failure to do so could result in a very expensive fine. But most importantly, if the unimaginable happens and your pet ever does go missing, a microchip is the surest way to find them.
Why Microchips Save So Many Lives
Every year, an estimated 10 million animals get lost or are stolen in the United States. In fact, 1 out of 3 pets will go missing in their lifetime!
On average, only 22% of lost dogs and less than 2% of lost cats that enter animal shelters are ever reunited with their owners. But, those numbers go up exponentially when pets are microchipped! More than 52% of microchipped dogs and 38% of microchipped cats are reunited with their owners!
The number one reason that microchipped pets were not reunited with their owners was that microchips had never been registered with their owners contact information. That’s why Spay Neuter Network provides our microchipping company, Home Again, with your information twice — you mail in a form with your contact information AND we email them your information in a spreadsheet. We want to make sure that your microchip is effective.
However, if you move or change your phone number, it’s important that you remember to call the microchip provider directly to update your information.
Having Your Pet Microchipped
If your pet was adopted from an animal shelter or rescue, they are most likely microchipped. If you are unsure if your pet is microchipped, ask your vet to scan for a chip or bring them into one of our clinics during walk in hours.
Unfortunately, the unexpected happens all the time and it is important that you are prepared. Many of us take the time to prepare ourselves and our human families for an emergency, but all too often we forget about the needs of our furry friends. It is important that you are prepared to take your pet and all of their supplies with you at the drop of a hat, so we’re here to help you get set up!
Packing a Go Bag
You may have a go bag for you or your human family members already, but you also need one for your pets. These bags allow you to evacuate at a moment’s notice and ensure you have all of the materials and supplies you need. Your pet go bag should be stored in an easy to access location near an exit and include:
- Your pet’s medical records, particularly proof of current vaccinations in a waterproof container
- Medications that your pet takes routinely in a waterproof container (replace every 3 months)
- Leashes (or carriers nearby the bag)
- At least 3 days worth of pet food in a waterproof container (replace every 3 months) and food bowls
- Bottled water (7 days for each person and pet) and water bowl
- Disposable litter pan (aluminum pans work great) and litter for cats
- Pet first aid kit
- Disposable garbage bags, paper towels, and disinfectant cleaners (avoid Lysol as it is dangerous to use near cats)
- Recent photographs of your pet in case they go missing
- Pet toys and treats
Never leave your pets behind during an evacuation. Remember, if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for them.
Preparing Your Home
Sadly, a disaster could occur when you’re not home, and it’s important that first responders are aware that you have pets that will need assistance. Many animal welfare organizations offer free pet emergency stickers that you can place on your home’s windows (ideally, one near each exterior door) or you can purchase them online.
If you have these stickers on your home and evacuate yourself and your pets during an emergency, if time allows write “evacuated” on the stickers.
Designate Emergency Caregivers
If something happens to you that keeps you from being able to return home, it is important that your pets still receive the care they need. That’s why it is so important to designate emergency caregivers and carry a Pet Emergency Care Card with you at all times. These are available from Spay Neuter Network – simply email us with your mailing address and let us know you’d like one!
When you select your designated caregivers, make sure to alter them that they have been selected and provide them with a key to your home and instructions on how to care for your pets.
Pets are family, and just like the rest of your family, there are certain documents you should have on hand for your pets! Don’t rely on your vet to house all of your pet records and photographs – in a disaster you may not have access to these files. It’s better to be safe than sorry! Make sure that you keep a folder with the following documents in your pet’s go bag and with you when you travel together!
- Proof of Ownership: Sadly, in the eyes of the law, pets are property and in the case of a pet custody dispute (such as if your pet goes missing and finds a new home or you go through a divorce) you will be asked to prove that your pet is in fact yours. The best way to prove ownership is your pet’s adoption paperwork or AKC registration (containing your name). Don’t have that? Make sure to keep veterinary records with your name going back years to show continued ownership.
- Rabies Certificate: In Texas, your pet is legally required to have a current rabies vaccination at all times. A Rabies Certificate is the best way to prove that your pet is vaccinated, so make sure to keep it! These certificates must be signed by the vet that vaccinated your pet and include their licence number.
- Veterinary Records: Many places such as boarding facilities, groomers, and pet friendly hotels require more than just proof of rabies to admit your pet, they may want to see evidence of other vaccinations such as bordetella, DHPP, and FVRCP or proof that your pet has been altered. Keep copies of all of your pet’s medical records on hand — this will also come in handy if you have to transfer vets or have to see an emergency vet when your typical veterinarian is not available.
- Pet Photographs: This may seem silly in the digital age, but it is important that you have printed copies of pet photographs that show identifying marks. In the case of a disaster, you may not be able to access Facebook or charge your phone, so don’t rely on electronic means to be able to show rescuers your pet’s face.
None of us like to think about death, but it is a necessary exercise when you have pets or people that rely on you. Many people create wills and trusts to ensure their property goes to those they care about, but many forget to include allowances for their beloved pets. If you don’t have a plan outlined for your pet, their future could be uncertain. The pets of many deceased owners end up in animal shelters where they must be separated in order to find a new home.
The only documents that are legally enforceable are those that you prepare accurately prior to passing. If something happens to you, a trust outlines where your pet goes, who cares for him and what funds are available.
Trust laws vary state to state, so take a moment to review the laws in your state.
Before starting the process of establishing a pet trust, consider the following:
- Who will care for your pets? Will the same person care for the group or will you split them up? Make sure that you speak to the people you’d like to leave your pets to in order to make sure that they are willing and able to accept that responsibility. If you don’t have a loved one that you’d like to leave your pets to, consider leaving them in the care of a specific animal shelter or rescue group, but make sure you reach out to the group before leaving that stipulation in the trust as some groups may have restrictions on what animals they can accept. Make sure that any organization you select is an organization you are confident will be around for a long time to come.
- Will you leave funds to care for your pet? Taking in new pets is expensive, so consider leaving a stipend for their care or leaving a donation with the rescue group to whom you are entrusting your pet’s care.
- Will you stipulate other conditions? Do you want to mandate that your pets be kept together? Perhaps you want to stipulate which food they eat or what veterinary practice they see? These are things to consider before moving forward.
Pet trusts are typically legally enforceable, but as such, they also require some expertise to establish. Take a look at the ASPCA’s Pet Trust Primer for more information on how to get started.
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