Published on: January 16, 2019
Author: Kathy Pobloskie
Category: Holidays, Pet Safety

February is nationally recognized as “Responsible Pet Ownership Month”.   Responsible pet ownership includes taking steps to prevent your dog or cat from going missing or being safely recovered if they are lost.


Here are ten tips to help you be a responsible pet owner:


  1. Know and follow all local animal ordinances in your municipality, county and state.  Buy your 2019 pet licenses and securely attach the tags to their collars. These licenses will have a unique identifying number that will identify you as the owner if you and your pet become separated.  This adds an extra layer of security along with your microchip and your ID tag.
  2. Check all the tags on your pet’s collars to make sure they are legible and the information is up to date. Are they securely attached to the collar? Does their collar need to be replaced? A simple ID tag with your phone number can save you from having to pay expensive reclaim fees if your pet goes missing.
  3. Microchip your pet! If they are already microchipped get them scanned to make sure it is functioning. Your vet or local shelter should be willing to do this for you for free.  Store the microchip number and the phone number of the microchip company in your phone. Call the company to make sure everything is up to date. If it isn’t – update it immediately. Your pet’s life could depend on it! Your pet could be put down or adopted out to a new home if you can’t be reached.
  4. Take full body photos of your pets – both sides. Also take a clear head shot. These will be very useful if you need to make a lost pet flyer or if you need to use photos to match your pet at a far away shelter. Store these photos in your phone and on your desktop computer and tablet.
  5. Ask a friend to take a couple of photos of you and your pet together. Don’t use a “selfie” because the image may flip and your pet’s markings may appear not to match.  A good photo with your pet can be used as proof of ownership if someone finds your pet.
  6. Store all important phone numbers in your phone: your vet, your microchip company, your local shelters and animal control facilities and the non-emergency numbers for local police departments. This will save you time if your pet goes missing.
  7. Check your fences and gates frequently for disrepair. Make sure the gates latch securely.  Consider placing a sign on your gate asking contractors, utility workers, delivery people, neighbors, etc. to make sure they securely close the gate behind them.  Be extra cautious after a windy day. Your gate may have blown open or a portion of your fence may have blown down. Don’t let your dogs outside until you have checked!
  8. If you use an electronic fence, check it frequently to make sure it is functioning.  Keep the batteries in your dog’s collar fully charged.
  9. Keep the leash on!  Don’t assume that your dog or cat will always come back.  Interesting smells, sights and sounds can lure your pet away.  Many pets go missing because they were let outside without a leash and without supervision.
  10. Never let your pets ride free when you travel.  Secure them in a seatbelt in the backseat or in a crate.  Don’t allow them to ride on your lap or in the lap of a passenger. An inflating airbag could kill them instantly.  Pets left to ride loose in the back seat can be injured, killed or thrown from a vehicle in an accident. Emergency personnel or Good Samaritans may accidentally let your pet out if they are trying to assist you after a crash.