You think it cannot happen to you. Your yard is secure. You do not leave the front door open. Your pet is an indoor pet.

The reality is this: The American Humane Association estimates more than 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the United States every year, and one in three pets will become lost at some point during its life.

In the event that your pet gets separated from you, there are some steps you can take to help give it the best chance of returning home.

1. Make sure your pet wears proper identification at all times. A secure, buckled collar with an ID tag that includes your phone number is highly recommended.

2. Microchip your pet. Your vet can insert a little chip, the size of a grain of rice, under the animal’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. That microchip has a unique number on it that can be read by a scanner. Inserting a microchip takes seconds and offers secure, reliable, unique and permanent identification.

3. Register the microchip. Registered microchips give lost pets the best chance of returning home. You must take the paperwork you are provided with and go online or call the microchip company and give them your contact information and your pet’s information. If the chip is not registered and the animal is scanned, the shelter or vet’s office that provided the chip will be notified. If they do not have your contact information, it will be difficult to find you to get your pet back home.

Statistics indicate that only about 22 percent of lost dogs that entered an animal shelter were reunited with their families. However, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was more than 52 percent.

Only 58 percent of the microchipped animals’ microchips had been registered in a database with their owner’s contact information. Registration is vital to increasing the chance of a happy reunion.

We never want to think that our pet could end up missing. But in the event that your pet does get lost, proper identification and a microchip can substantially increase the likelihood of your pet returning home.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish and depends upon the generosity of people from across the country who have followed them since Hurricane Katrina. Contact ARNO at, or leave a message at (504) 571-1900.