Collars & Tags & Microchips—OH MY!

by Mikella Maughan

Every year we see an increase in lost pets around the 4th of July, as they try to escape the noise and confusion of fireworks.  In addition to securing your pets, there are things you can do to help the chances of getting them back home should they somehow escape.

As your pet doesn’t have a voice, the easiest and most obvious option is a collar and ID of some kind.  Pet owners on a budget can find collars at local dollar stores.  Even without a tag a collar makes it easier for your pet to be safely caught by a good Samaritan so they can be returned to you or turned in to a shelter where you can be reunited.  If you are unable to get an ID tag at the moment, you can write your phone number on the collar with a Sharpie or other permanent marker.  This is also a great option for those pets who tend to always ‘lose’ their tags. You can also order collars and tags on Amazon or other online pet stores so you don’t have to go anywhere.

When a pet doesn’t have an ID tag or other identifying information, a microchip is an excellent backup plan. Microchips don’t fall off or get lost, and they don’t have batteries that die.  They simply sit silently under your pet’s skin until the information you’ve registered can be retrieved with a microchip scanner.

Travis County residents can get a free Microchip and/or a free ID tag for their pet by going to Austin Animal Services at 7301  Levander Loop between 11:00am and 7:00pm.  The shelter does not currently assist with chip registration so be sure to register your pet’s chip as soon as you get home.

Williamson County residents can get a free microchip and registration at the Williamson County Animal Shelter.  Just email for more information and/or to schedule a microchip appointment.  These are provided free through a grant by the Petco Foundation.

You can also get a microchip for a fee from your pet’s veterinarian.

You should register the chip with the manufacturer at least once, but you can also register your chip at Michelson Found Animals Foundation (  for free.  Just remember to update your information when you move or change phone numbers.

Now is the time, please don’t wait until your pet is lost and wish you had done something; it may be too late.  According to a 2009 study published by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, a dog has a 52% chance of returning home if microchipped but only a 21% chance of returning home if not.  Cats have a 38% chance of returning home if microchipped; an astonishing 1% chance of returning home if not.

IF YOU FIND A LOST PET please call or text the Wells Branch microchip scanner volunteer at (512) 270-1026 for a free scan, or take the pet to your nearest vet office or shelter.  Some pet supply stores such as Petsmart, Petco and Tomlinson’s also have scanners.

Please also post lost or found pets on the Wells Branch Lost and Found Pets page on Facebook.

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