Monday, April 2, 2012

Pet IDs

Happy April, Basenji lovers! According to some national organizations, it's also National Pet ID week or month, so that's what I'm writing about today.
Having manned the 24-hour toll-free BRAT phone line for about three years, I have heard my share of Lost and Found Basenji stories. I can assure you that making sure your Basenji wears up-to-date identification can save you a lot of heartache. It can also save your sweet Basenji's life.  
Every Basenji placed by Basenji Rescue and Transport is issued a brass tag engraved with the dog's own personal identification number and BRAT's toll free phone number. If he or she somehow manages to get loose and takes off on a thrill seeking adventure, the good Samaritan who finds him -- hopefully alive and well -- can give us a call. With the dog's ID number, we can find him in our database and learn where he belongs -- but ONLY if the owner remembers to update changes in address or phone number(s)! 
Of course, the very best identification is that which records YOUR address and phone number. The BRAT tag is a great back-up, but for the quickest response, make sure your Basenji is wearing ID that will link him directly and quickly to you!  
The least expensive identification is the simple tag that hangs from a ring on the collar. There are many styles, materials, and colors available, and your local pet supply store probably has a wide variety that can be engraved with the pertinent information. Literally hundreds of sources can be found on the internet. 
Though a little pricey, there are some really neat high-tech options available today, such as the slip-on tag engraved with a QR (Quick Response) code and web address that point to your dog's registered profile.
It can be scanned with the smart phone of the lucky dog's finder to reveal details you have selected, such as your phone numbers, emergency contacts, medical conditions, or medications.  When the code on the tag is scanned,  an email notification will be sent to you -- and if that phone has a GPS, you will receive a location map of where the scan occurred. You can easily change the details as often as needed without having to remove the tag. I found this particular kind of tag, a QR Code Scruff tag, along with many other kinds, at  (This is a must-have for the techie geek Basenji!)
Permanent microchip ID is another good option, now that most vets have scanners that can read the chip. A tiny transponder encoded with an identification number is injected between the dog's shoulder blades with a hypodermic syringe. When the scanner passes over it, the ID number is displayed, which can then be traced through a national microchip registry to find the owner. The microchip cannot be lost, altered, or destroyed. The cost will vary, but figure somewhere between $25 and $50. Some areas hold clinics offering low cost or free microchipping. Again, you must remember to register and update your information.
Tattooing is another option, but not as "user friendly" as a tag you can just glance at. Some dogs don't like having their ears, thighs, or bellies looked at by strangers (hey, neither do I!), and hair often obscures the number, as well.

If your dog loses its ID tag, you can use a permanent ink marker to write your phone number on a light-colored collar, or, using clear packaging tape, affix a slip of paper with contact information to it. And,  good news for BRAT dogs: If your Basenji loses its BRAT ID tag, we now have the ability to create a duplicate tag at a cost of $5, including postage. The order form can be found on the BRAT website:
Finally, remember to check ID regularly to make sure rings or hooks are tightly closed and that engraving is still readable.
~Chey Miller

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