The Tennessee Department of Health has created a web-based resource to use rabies vaccination tags to help reunite lost pets with their owners. Those who find stray pets wearing TDH rabies tags can now use this tool on the TDH website to search for and identify the veterinarians who vaccinated the animals, who can then help with information to find the owners.
"We've received excellent cooperation from veterinarians across the state who understand the emotional toll of losing a beloved pet and are eager to help return missing dogs and cats to their owners," said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. "Those who find a pet can simply look up the TDH rabies tag number on our website to find the vet who administered the vaccination. That vet can, in turn, use the tag number to identify the owner and be part of the reunion process."
The TDH website lists rabies tag numbers in sequential order to make it easier to find the appropriate veterinarian.
The list is available at http://tn.gov/health/article/rabies-tags.
If a rabies tag was not issued by the Tennessee Department of Health, pet finders can call the telephone number on the tag to contact the agency that issued it. Some larger cities in Tennessee have their own licensing systems for rabies tags separate from TDH.
Dreyzehner said the effort to develop the website pet finder tool was spearheaded and coordinated by his executive assistant, Tammy Stanton, a TDH employee with 32 years of state service and a life-long passion for helping animals.
"This is another reason to have your animal properly vaccinated, protecting it not only from a deadly disease but helping it come back home to you if lost," Stanton said. "We know even the most responsible pet owners can experience a pet becoming separated from them. If the pet has a rabies tag, there is now an additional effective way for good Samaritans and animal control employees to help with a happy reunion."
In addition to rabies tags, many pets have microchips embedded beneath their skin which can provide another means for identification. If the pet has a microchip, many veterinarians, humane societies and animal shelters now have microchip readers that can be used to provide contact information for the owner.
TDH reminds pet owners that Tennessee law requires rabies vaccination for both dogs and cats. The vaccination is safe and effective. Many communities offer low-cost rabies vaccination clinics for dogs and cats during spring months. Vaccinating pets against rabies not only protects pets from the fatal disease, but also protects people who may be exposed to rabies by contact with unvaccinated pets who have been infected. For more information about rabies, visit www.cdc.gov/rabies/.