Updated August 16, 2022.
The American Humane Association estimates more than 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. They also report that one in three pets will become lost at some point during their life.
Although most pets are reunited with their owners, that constant anxiety hangs over me. I can’t stomach the thought of never getting to see my dog, Baxter, again. I have found that GPS collars, collars with current contact info, and microchips are the best solution to help prevent this issue from happening to me and my four-legged friend:
1. Whistle Pet Tracker for Dogs & Cats
For under $100, Whistle Pet Tracker has live GPS tracking, location alerts, activity monitoring, and health settings. You can set safe zones in which your phone will alert you when your pet wanders outside of that safe-zone area. Similar to a FitBark, the Whistle Pet Tracker enables pet owners to set goals for their pets to help them lose weight and track pet activity on how much they are getting each day. Another bonus: the Whistle Pet Tracker is waterproof!
Wüf began with the goal of becoming the world’s smartest dog collar. For $165, Wüf features two-way audio. This means you can listen to your dog, and they can hear you. A comforting and familiar voice is ideal in a lost-dog situation when they are feeling scared. The Invisible Leash is another great aspect of Wüf. It sets a leash length perimeter to keep your dog beside you while running or hiking. Using Wüf’s Virtual Fences, training programs, live tracking, and location alerts, you can teach your dog their boundaries. More importantly, you can be notified when they stray outside those zones.
3. Link AKC
Endorsed by the American Kennel Club, Link AKC runs for $179 and features a tracking unit that comes with a leather collar. You can choose to use the collar provided or the normal collar your dog wears. Link AKC is one of the more expensive tracking devices for dogs, but it offers the capability to integrate with your phone. The GPS tracker can also log your hikes and runs with your dog, enables you to activate a white LED light on the tracker for nighttime adventures, and uses an audible chime on the tracker for training purposes.
4. Collars with Contact Information or Tags to Track Pet
Even though my dogs are microchipped, I still like to keep a collar on them at all times. My number one note for owners with microchipped pups is to always update with your current contact information. My go-to collar for my dogs is from Orvis, and comes with free personalization to fit your dog’s name and your phone number. Another added benefit would be adding a tag to this collar with your name and address. Whoever finds your lost dog will be able to find you easily and save them a trip to the vet to get the dog scanned for a microchip.
Only about 22 percent of lost dogs that enter animal shelters are reunited with their families. However, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs is more than 52 percent. Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice, and the information is stored in a database and linked to your dog’s unique microchip number. I found Home Again to be a great website full of information regarding microchipping, and I even ordered a metal tag with Baxter’s microchip number on it that I have added to his collar. Sadly, only 58 percent of microchipped animals in the registered database have their updated current contact information. It is extremely important to make sure that all of your contact information in the database is up to date (new address because of moving, new phone number, etc.).
Keeping track of your pet to ensure their safety is a necessity, and taking a chance just isn’t worth the risk. Any or all of these options are great for a safe pup as well as for your eased state of mind.