It has always amazed me at the lack of identification that is found on pets running loose. Pet owners go out of their way to make it impossible for animal shelter workers to locate them. Although most jurisdictions require that pets (mostly dogs) wear a local pet license, few owners actually place the license on their pet.
In an effort to keep pets out of local shelters, many shelters provide free identification tags so as to return an animal back to its owner. Even with free tags, it is amazing the number of pets that repeatedly return to the shelter without identification. Fortunately, shelters have staff with good memories and can recognize a repeat customer. But given the volume of pets that pass through the doors of an animal shelter, it is unreasonable for owners to expect staff to remember their pets… that is why ID tags are so important.
Cats are a different story. Most shelters only return 11 or 12% of the cats coming into the shelter to their owners. Cat owners just don’t go looking for their lost cats. Like dog owners, they choose to not place identification on their pets. But unlike dog owners, cat owners generally do not begin the search of their lost pet until way after the hold time expires at the animal shelter, so the cat is either adopted or euthanized by the time the cat owner begins the search.
Microchips are a partial solution, but cats that have been trapped by a neighbor are so freaked out inside the trap that the cat appears feral. Most shelter personnel will only make a cursory scan so as to prevent the loss of their fingers. It may be several days before the cat calms down enough to attempt another scan for a microchip.
Many shelters have only a 72 hour holding period for stray pets. That isn’t much time to figure out that your pet is lost, if you are not paying attention. This short timeframe is a perfect reason to keep visible identification on your pet at all times.
Every city and county that I have ever worked has the cleanest pets in the world. The excuse for a pet not wearing a collar or tags is that “I just gave him (her) a bath.” That excuse is getting old. Very old. And to be honest, judging by the mud on your pet, we don’t believe you anyway.