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Ohio Study Says, "Tag—You're Home"

ID tags and current licenses lead to the most reunions

ID tags and current licenses lead to the most reunions

Nothing says “I love you” like a cheap metal tag. That’s the conclusion of a recent pair of studies in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Vol. 230, No. 2) that shows lost dogs and cats wearing identification tags are recovered more often by their owners than those who are naked.

The findings of the study, conducted from June to September 2005, seem to support a “back to basics” approach to recovering lost pets. Led by Linda K. Lord, D.V.M., Ph.D., of the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, researchers studying several animal shelters in Montgomery County, Ohio, found that dog owners who contacted shelters in search of their animals had the greatest success rates. Successful owners also called or visited an animal services agency sooner and more often than those who did not get their dogs back. The median recovery time for dogs was two days; the likelihood increased if the dogs wore current licenses and ID tags. Neighborhood signs posted by owners proved effective, helping 15 percent of recovered dogs go home. Most dogs were found within a mile of home, although at least 7 percent wandered more than five miles away.

Interestingly, high-tech methods of search and recovery proved less useful. Websites played little or no role, and the study also found that the increasingly popular identification microchip had a negligible effect on dog recovery.

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