Lately I've been a worry wart. We're taking a trip in the next few months and taking our beloved dog with us. I always have near panic attacks when I think about losing her, or any of the pets I've had over the years. Thankfully this has never happened, but it could. I never forget that just because I've never lost a pet means that I never will.
I don't want to, EVER. It will be like losing a child and things do happen.
So! I've been doing some research. There are a number of ways that you can fix it so that pets can be recovered, but there is no full proof way. The best way, from what I can tell, is actually several ways.
There appears to be pros and cons for various methods, but what really bothers me is the misinformation that is all over the web about this stuff. For example, findlostpets.org says that tattoos require anesthesia, or can fade or become illegible. Yet according to the National Dog Registry, anesthesia is not only not required, but not even recommended. They also point out that the "tattooer" will touch up the tattoo for free if it fades or becomes illegible. Which are we supposed to believe? Neither organization cashes in on tattoos so both are, what I'd call, non-biased.
In the end the best argument against tattooing, in my opinion, is that the average pet finder would not know what to do with the tattoo. There are a number of tattoo registries and most people don't even know about them. Who is to say that said registry doesn't fall apart in a few years? I'm reminded of the togethertag.com funding fiasco, this after promising wonderful things to participants. It not only failed, but didn't follow through with even promises on free books for joining!
Microchipping is another controversial method. Because there is no standard microchipping location on the pet and because a scanner may not even be compatible or for that matter, work properly, there is no promise that it'll even be found if scanned.
What I think needs doing is a tattoo mark indicating that the dog is microchipped, just the same way they tattoo dogs that have been spayed. This way the vet KNOWS the dog has a microchip and can help with finding a scanner that will work. Apparently that is just too simple a thing to consider. It seems the only full proof way.
It kills me that animal shelters are more concerned about spaying animals than recovering lost pets to their rightful owners. The spay tattoo mark is proof because they do NOT tattoo for microchips.
As mentioned above, some pet registries with numbers are a failure and not worth the time (e.g., Together Tag).
The old standby, tags with names and numbers but then what about dogs who manage to slip the collar off, leaving the owner standing there with a leash and empty collar?
So what do you do? Try them all, just in case? It is a serious question with no good answer.