The ASPCA's “ID Me” research looked at the use of ID tags on dogs and cats and how willing and able people are to return lost animals to their owners. The study investigated these questions:
- How do pet owners use ID tags and how do they rank their importance?
- Do owners retain personalized ID tags that have been placed on their pets?
- Did any tagged animals in the study become lost, and did the tags help return them home?
- Does tagging large numbers of dogs and cats in a community affect stray intake for local animal control?
How It Began
The ASPCA chose Oklahoma City, OK, for the first phase of research.
The study collected baseline survey information from pet owners who brought their pets to either a spay/neuter clinic or one of four participating veterinary clinics. These pet owners received an ID Me brochure. Staff at the clinic also placed an ID tag personalized with the owner's name and contact information directly on the animal, providing a collar if needed.
The study also included people who had just adopted a dog or cat from either OKC Animal Welfare Division or Central Oklahoma Humane Society. These adopters did not take the baseline survey because their pets were new, but did receive a collar and personalized ID tag.
In Phase II, a large-scale intervention, funded by PetSmart Charities, was implemented to collar and tag owned cats who were brought to spay/neuter clinics in five communities.
In the baseline survey from Oklahoma City, 80% of pet owners said that a pet ID tag was "extremely important" or "very important." Yet only 33% of surveyed pet owners reported that their pet wears an ID tag all the time.
In the follow-up survey (after providing personalized ID tags), 73% reported that their pet continued to wear the ID tag. That is, once the tag was on, most owners were keeping it on their pet.
Of newly adopted pets, 89% had the ID tag on at the six week follow-up call. In the six-week period after initial tagging, 10 pets were recovered because of their personalized tag.
Phase I results suggest that the general public understands the importance of ID tagging and simply needs easy access to a personalized tag and a collar. The results also show that when the tags are on the pet, they mostly remain on the animal.