Can You Identify Your Pet in an Emergency

Bloomington Pet Pals

In-Home Pet Care, Dog Walking


By Ann Wesley

As part of my animal care trianing, I have participated in seminars on how to set up temporary animal shelters in disaster situations. I learned a lot and was surprised by some things - including what it takes to get reunited with a lost pet if we were in a tornado, earthquake or some unexpected disaster.

None of us ever expects to be separated from our pets, but accidents and disasters can and do happen all the time. In a disaster situation, our pets could become separated from home and changing landscape could leave them confused and unable to find their way back. If they were lucky enough to be found and taken to a shelter, would they know how to get home?


Microchips are perfect for telling authorities where your dog or cat belongs. It's a tiny chip implanted under the skin. When scanned, it identifies you as the pet's companion and provides contact information. If your pet turned up at a shelter, you could be contacted and reunited immediately.

I used to think my old dogs didn't need a microchip because they would never wander far from home and my indoor cats wouldn't need one either, even though they came to me already chipped. But it had never occurred to me that a disaster might take them away from home. Collars and tags can be lost or taken off but a microchip is implanted under the skin and when scanned brings up your contact information.


I also learned that having a photo of your pet, preferably shown with you, is a great advantage when trying to reclaim your lost dog or cat. Unbelievably, some people go to temporary animal shelters, and regular shelters, to steal dogs! Because a pet may have experienced a trauma, it may not react 'normally' in a temporary disaster shelter. To prevent animals going home with thieves, a photo ID is sometimes required to reclaim a pet.

 Collars & Tags

Pets who go outside should always have a collar with identification tags to help them get home quickly. Even if your pets doesn't wear a collar inside, its a good idea to put them on over Halloween, Fourth of July, parties or times when your door might be opening a lot giving dogs and cats a change to escape. Tags can frequently get torn off. If possible, get a collar with your phone number printed on it or engraved on the buckle.