5 steps to protect your pet in case of loss, theft or straying

  1. Identify it
  2. Microchip it. Only 20% of animals that arrive in shelters are identified by a microchip, even though it is compulsory to have them fitted in Spain. A microchip is a small device the size of a grain of rice containing a unique sequence of numbers that can be read using a special scanner and which, once inserted beneath the skin on the animal’s neck, becomes a kind of ID card for pets. It is inserted quickly and painlessly and is more effective than a tattoo. Once implanted, the microchip number, together with the owner’s and the pet’s details, are recorded in the pet identification archive. Your vet will implant the microchip and send the registration details to the identification archive.

    In Spain, each autonomous region has its own archive and all the archives, except for Melilla, are part of a network containing the details of all the pets identified and registered in the country. The Red Española de Identificación de Animales de Compañía [Spanish Pet Identification Network] (REIAC www.reiac.es) is a very useful computer system in the event of a pet being lost. Furthermore, some regional archives are also connected to EUROPETNET (www.europetnet.com), a network of associations that allows animals to be located even if they have been lost or have strayed while you’re travelling in one of several European countries.

    A tip: In recent years, in Catalonia, the average time taken to recover a lost pet has been less than a day from the time its disappearance is reported. However, the recovery time increases to 7–10 days if the pet has no microchip and is not registered in the official identification archive.

  3. Register it
  4. Register your pet with the local authority where you live. This normally has to be done in person but for some local authorities you can already do this electronically, and in some cases your vet will do this for you. Contact your local authority for information about how to register your pet and what documentation you need. Apart from being compulsory, it will give you more confidence about being able to find your pet in case of loss.

  5. Keep the details up to date
  6. Tell your vet and the local authority about any change in your details, e.g. a change of address or telephone number. This will ensure that your details in the pet identification archive and the local authority register will always be up-to-date and can be used, if necessary, to locate you and return your pet.

    If you move to another town, you will need to register the pet in your new local authority’s register and request its removal from the old one. Furthermore, if you move to another autonomous region, you will need to remove your pet from the identification register of the region you have come from and register it in the one for the region you are moving to. If the register for the autonomous region you are moving to is part of the Red Española de Identificación de Animales de Compañía, a registered vet in the region to which you are moving will carry out both procedures for you.

  7. Attach a name tag to your pet
  8. Make sure your pet has a collar and name tag fitted with its name and your contact telephone number. In some towns, when you register your pet with the local authority you will be supplied with a registration tag showing its name and identification number and your telephone number. If you change your telephone number, you will need to update the tag. A stray animal can sometimes be recovered in a matter of hours if you can be contacted by telephone.

    In addition to the official tags available in some towns, you can fit your pet with other tags of your choosing. Some of the latest tags include a QR code that can be scanned with any smartphone and provides all the information you gave to help people locate you and let you know that your pet was lost and has been found. Furthermore, some tags use smartphone GPS technology to alert the pet owner by email/text message when the QR code is read with a mobile phone, stating where the pet has been found.

    For pets that have a tendency to run away or get lost, you can do more than simply fit a tag and microchip: there are collars on the market containing GPS locators that allow you to monitor your pet’s movements using a specific receiver or an Internet connection. Alternatively, there are devices that contain a SIM card and work like a mobile phone: if the pet gets lost, you can call the number on the card and the device worn by the animal will send you a text message with the coordinates of your pet’s location, assuming there is mobile phone coverage where your pet is located. An increasing amount of products are available to prevent pets getting lost and you can find the latest developments in how to prevent pets from straying or getting lost.

  9. Be watchful
  10. In some cases it’s easy to foresee that your pet will escape or disappear for other reasons. Take preventive measures and protect it by keeping your animal on a lead, increasing the height of your garden fence, checking doors and windows, etc. Taking a few preventive measures can save you and your pet a lot of heartache.

    Further information “El primer estudi d’’animals de companyia de Catalunya, Maig 2014”