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Norwich Bulletin - 9/20/2009

The New Age Of Tracking A Lost Pet

The new day of electronics has brought us two very good systems that help us to find our pets if they get lost. Even the most diligent of cat and dog owners can be caught by surprise when a grandchild comes over and leaves the door open by accident for “just a minute” and the indoor cat sneaks out for an adventure.

I get so many calls from owners of both cats and dogs whose pets have escaped from their home or kennel – everyone wants to know hot to find their pet, but no-one seems to think of the preventative measures that can be done ahead of time to give you better odds that you will actually find your pet. Especially a cat. At least there are leash laws just about everywhere so that a stray dog is noticed and eventually will find itself in a pound.

However, because cats are listed as free roaming creatures, no one really notices a cat walking across their yard until they have seen them consistently for a week or so and then they are either chased away, or assumed to be a throw away – or, if particularly lucky, they are picked up as a stray and taken to a no kill shelter.

But here are a few options. Permanent micro chipping is not a guarantee that your pet will get back to you (not every shelter has a scanner) but if certainly gives one more than a fifty percent chance. What permanent micro chipping is, is an advanced identification system that many veterinarians, shelters and rescues utilize to aid in reuniting lost pets with their owners.

A micro chip is about the size of a grain of rice and is injected by a sterile applicator directly under the cat’s skin between the shoulders. It is virtually painless to the animal and even kittens and puppies can be micro chipped as early as five weeks of age. For a breeder, a micro chipped kitten means positive identification should something happen after the cat has been placed in its new home.

By the breeder registering the chip in their name, should the kitten ever be lost or left in a shelter, the breeder as the registered owner of the chip, could be contacted to reclaim the kitten or cat. You can even purchase your own microchips directly from the manufacturer for about $12 per chip (includes the implantation needle) and the chips are then registered to the breeder. It’s a great way to protect your breeding from the unknown when it goes to a new home and owner.

Many microchip companies provide a national database available twenty-four hours a day, all year round with no days off. The recovery works with a scanner that reveals a one of a kind number that is on the microchip that has been imbedded between the shoulders. The number is then sent to the database and the owner is located.

The newest way of electronic tracking actually lets the finder see that the pet is electronically monitored. When people call me because they have lost a pet they usually say, “I would give anything to have my cat back.” Well, how about an initial investment of $50 and then fifty cents a month to be able to find out where your cat or dog went?

The locater is a radio-beacon collar made by Communication Specialists that can be used to track animals up to a quarter of a mile or so. The locator can be worn easily and unobtrusively by even small adult cats. It is the size of about seven quarters and weighs only 1/3 of an ounce. The antenna is invisible as it is woven into the fabric of the collar.

Both breakaway and non-breakaway collar versions are available. It is powered by an inexpensive lithium battery that lasts about thirty days and these batteries are available in sets of twelve for about $6.00. If your cat gets out of the house you would use the companion directional radio receiver to locate the cat. Sort of like a richter scale you will get different readings from Faint to Close and you will do a “hot to cold” walkabout until you get a strong signal.

Walking in different directions often gives better results. If a cat has gotten away while the humans were at work, it could be hiding scared under a tree in its yard of halfway across town, depending on the cat’s personality. So, if an escaped cat (or dog) is too far to be detected then a short drive through the neighborhood will almost certainly pick up a signal. Many people will say that their cat never goes anywhere – never tries to escape. But that’s what all those people who call me each week thought too.

Remember, it only takes one instance and your cat can be gone forever. How much is your cat or dog worth to you? The locator’s starter kit consists of the 100 channel receiver (about $250), two collars with transmitters ($50 each), a six month supply of batteries ($9.00) and the fifty cents a month. It’s a small price to pay to know you can find your favorite animal companion should he/she wander away.

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