Do Your Pets Wear an ID Tag? They Should.

New ASPCA Study Shows Many Pets Missing ID Tags, Even as Pet Owners Claim They Feel ID Tags are Very Important for Pet Safety
September 21, 2011

NEW YORK--The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today released findings from a recent study on the use of ID tags by pet owners. Written by two ASPCA experts and published in the September 2011 issue of Preventative Veterinary Medicine, the study found that while 80 percent of pet owners report that they believe it is either very or extremely important for animals to wear ID tags, only 33 percent of that population report always having ID tags on their pets.

The objective of this study was to evaluate if providing and putting a free collar and ID tag on the pet during an owner's visit to a veterinary hospital or spay/neuter facility increased the likelihood that the pet owner would actually keep the ID tag on their pet after at least six to eight weeks. A second population of dogs and cats that were adopted from animal control and humane society shelters were also studied to assess retention of a collar and personalized ID tag.

At around eight weeks after the ID tag was applied, a telephone follow-up was conducted. For the group of pet owners that obtained the ID tag during a visit to a veterinary hospital or spay/neuter facility, use of an ID tag significantly increased - 84.3 percent reported their pets were wearing an ID tag in the post-intervention survey, compared to only 13.8 percent pre-intervention. For the group of pet owners that obtained the ID tag at the point of adoption, 94 percent of owners reported their pets were wearing an ID tag at the time of follow-up.

"While statistics vary from community to community and state to state, stray animals could account for 40 to 60 percent of the total animal intake in animal shelters that take in strays," said Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of shelter research and development for the ASPCA. "Combined with the fact that the return-to-owner (RTO) rate in most communities hovers between 10 and 30 percent for dogs and less than 5 percent for cats, we know that these lost pets are not finding their way home. But personalized ID tags that contain contact information for the dog or cat owner can help assure lost animals are quickly reunited with their owners."

It was discovered in the post-intervention survey that approximately 5 percent of those who participated later lost - and subsequently recovered - their pet thanks to the ID tag. This suggests that ID tagging is an effective method to potentially decrease stray intake into shelters and return pets home. The results of the study also support animal welfare and veterinary professionals placing ID tags and collars directly on pets as a method to retain those ID tags and collars on the animals, increasing the likelihood they will be returned home if lost or during a disaster.