Keep Emergency Contact Numbers On Your Dog’s Tags or Collars Up-To-Date


Hello! Here’s a reminder to update your contact information on your dog’s tags or collars – and with your dog’s microchip registry. Have you moved? Changed phone numbers? Is there a number that you could add to the registry as a backup?

Two stories from this week have inspired this reminder:

I took a siesta the other day (that sounds cooler than a nap, right?). When I woke up, I looked at my phone and saw six missed calls from one out-of-the-area area code and three missed calls from another number in that same area code. As I mulled over that information, the phone started flashing (I had the ringer off) with an incoming call from one of those numbers. Shoot! What is happening? I answered with trepidation.

A very upset-sounding person responded, “I have your dog here, and it was in a fight, and it may have taken the other dog’s EYE out!”

I jumped out of bed and dashed into the living room. Both of my dogs looked up from their respective couches, where THEY were having a siesta. Whew!

I said, “I live in Oroville, and both of my dogs are with me. But I work with several rescues and I often send dogs that I fostered to their new homes with collars that have my number stitched on them… Does this dog have a collar with my phone number?”

Long story short, that was exactly the case. As the person described the dog, I remembered what dog they were describing. I was able to pull up that dog’s owner’s information and send them HIS number. It turned out that he had left the dog with his parents, the dog had escaped their yard and wandered into some other dog’s yard, and a fight ensued. Thank goodness, as it turned out, the dog who had been injured just had sand in his eye. Both dogs were ok, and the dog who was wearing the collar with my number on it was returned to his owner’s parents.

I suggested to his owner, “Hey, it’s been about 18 months… maybe you should get your dog a collar with YOUR number on it? And if your dog stays with your parents regularly, maybe get him a tag with THEIR number on it, for him to wear when he’s there?”

Keep Emergency Contact Numbers On Your Dog’s Tags or Collars Up-To-Date
Make sure you check your dog’s tags to make sure they are still current AND legible. Engraved numbers rub off after a few years.

Backup or alternative contact numbers are critical. I just read an account of a young man who left his service dog in his car at a gas station, with the car and the air conditioning turned on. Someone jumped into the car and drove away, stealing the young man’s car and dog. The dog was turned loose many miles away and was picked up by a shelter; shelter staffers called the number on the dog’s tags, but alas, the owner couldn’t get those calls for a few panicky days, because his cell phone was also stolen.

Fortunately, he finally was able to get the messages and the dog was returned, but what if it had been in an area where the dogs don’t have much time in a shelter before the unthinkable? So scary to contemplate.

MANY of us need to put a tag with a backup number on our dog’s collar. It occurred to me one day as I was driving with my dogs: If we got into an accident and I was killed and my dogs survived, who would the first responders call? Only MY number is on my dogs’ collars! Though I’m not a fan of tags (hence my large collection of collars with my number stitched into them), I’m having some tags made with my husband’s and my son’s number engraved on them, to use when I am driving with my dogs. Just in case!


  1. My dogs tags have my number, my husband’s number and the words I AM CHIPPED all imprinted on it. Some may think it’s overkill, but hey….no such thing as being TOO prepared if you ask me.

  2. Good points here and, yes I have my phone number on my dog’s collar but need to add some alternatives.
    But, don’t order collars from China!!! Plenty of small and large vendors here make dog collars with info stitched or printed on them. Support local and get your collars quicker. Of course, they won’t cost $6 but these are your babies and are worth a little more. Just got a lovely biothane collar with dog’s name, emergency info, reflective and glow-in-the-dark numbers from a local maker. Win-win!

    • I totally agree about buying local. It’s just that I buy them 10 at a time, so no foster dog or puppy leaves my house without ID. and the low price helps. I tell folks they can toss the collar as soon as they get an individualized collar or tags of their own, but since so many dogs get separated from new owners in the first week or so, I feel better knowing they have ID on from the get-go.

      • Why are you paying for collars? Business plan: you have national/international reach with WDJ. Just by mentioning a website your readers will go there – not even advertising per se. Get in touch with a collar maker. Ask them for FREE collars for your fosters. When the dog get adopted new family is offered a discount on a new collar with current info. Another Win-win.

  3. I use slide-on tags, with 2 phone numbers, rather than hanging tags for 2 reasons:
    – hanging tags can fall off a collar
    – hanging tags can get your dog trapped somewhere, either in nature or in a crate (with a risk of strangulation).
    Of course, microchips are a must (with up-to-date info) and escape artists can wear trackers.

  4. Thank you for this important reminder! This article reminded me that I don’t have tags on my dogs’ travel harnesses so I just ordered some new ones. I foster dogs as well as have had calls from other states like yours and have foster dog tags so my heart doesn’t stop like I bet yours did when you got that call.

  5. You can have multiple numbers put on the registration for micro chips, which is some thing every dog should have done. Also, smart phones can be set up so first responders can get emergency contact information when they respond to any accident. My husband is a police officer and many times that his help them do notifications

  6. One of our dogs, a husky-GSD mix, has epilepsy that requires a combination of drugs to control. She has a medic-alert type tag engraved on the back with “EPILEPSY-MEDS REQUIRED” followed by my and my wife’s phone numbers as well as the name and phone number of the vet. She is also chipped and has another tag with that information.

  7. I am such an overprotective mom that my pup always has a separate tag on her collar so I don’t have to think about it…that reads IF IN TORONTO (our typical vacation spot, and only stay in one particular hotel) and has the hotel number on it as well as my cell phone… addition to her regular tag with numbers…./alternates. I am very fond of boomerang tags dot com. They have been reliable for decades and have a variety of tag types and materials and colors and fast service. plus often an option to put more info on the reverse side.

  8. I must admit, I don’t have a specific tag for the dog I now have, but because I rescued geriatric dogs for over 20 years, I had collars of slightly sizes that had an engraved harness bronze plate that said Alaskan Malamute, microchipped, daily medication required and then my phone number Of course, the dogs were all chipped. There is only one plated collar small enough for my new Finnish Lapphund but he can’t go anywhere anyway because he is too frail. He wouldn’t even try to jump out of the car anymore and has trouble walking.
    I was so naive when I started rescuing and thought everyone LOVED my mals but were afraid of them because they look so much like wolves but then, I did learn that people steal dogs even out of locked pens and sell them for research; they liked mals because they were so tolerant of pain or they just sold the dog. I had several friends lose dogs from their locked yards. Fortunately, the dogs were recognized and they owners were told where they were.

  9. Our dog came from a rescue that we have volunteered with for years. The rescue has all its dogs chipped with the rescue’s phone number as primary. The adopter can add their number as secondary. Someone will always answer the rescue’s phone and can provide adopter’s contact info if not listed with the chip company. Also, the rescue wants to know the dog’s circumstances. How did the dog get loose? Does the dog get loose often? If the adopter does not want the dog back, the rescue will get the dog.

  10. My dogs wear tags, but I Vetrap them flat to the collar. It would be a small hassle for someone who need to to get at them, but it solves problems of jangling, dragging through wet/raw food, and potentially getting stuck in the large cold air return grate in my hallway floor. I love the slide tags, but they don’t hold as much info as I’d like to add.

  11. Good information to have is “Reward” followed by 2 phone numbers. I used to have little orange slide on pockets on my dog’s collars, (I need to look for these again!) I had a small laminated typed note giving my contact info, stating a reward for return of this dog, stating if this dog is found injured, I will guarantee payment to any vet.

  12. My dog has a medical tag (ordered from Etsy) with Addison’s Disease — Needs meds! printed on the front. On the reverse, it has her Home Again microchip number and Home Again phone number as well as my husband’s and my own cell phone numbers. At the Home Again website, her medical instructions and vet can be found as well as two contacts to call in the event I and my husband are in an accident and cannot respond. I have reminders on my calendar every 6 months to check the info and update if necessary. Since we RV several months out of the year, I also use those inexpensive plastic tags used to write in information (from the hardware store, for key chains). I can put temporary campground information with dates and site number on these and change the info every time we change locations. So far, so good!

  13. I realize that I am a little late in replying to this article, but I am hoping that Nancy, the Editor will see this and have a recommendation. Beside having updated tags on collars, can you tell me which organization the Whole Dog Journal recommends for microchip registry?

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  15. We travel a lot in our RV and tow a car. While we often have both our dogs in the car with us when we see the sights, we sometimes leave them in the RV alone. In addition to having ICE (in case of emergency) numbers on our phones, we have the following in our wallets next to our ID cards in case we are in an accident:
    In case of emergency notify:
    Spouse – [name] Ph. [phone #]
    We live in our RV & are currently at this campground:
    [campground name, address]
    Our RV is a 28’ Thor Quantum
    Florida license plate [license plate #]
    If our 2 Chihuahuas (Mindy and Suzie) are not with us, they are in the RV. Please arrange care for them ASAP.
    Please notify: [contact 1 name, phone]
    Please notify: [contact 2 name, phone]

    We also keep the same information in the glove compartment of the car. Of course, the important part is to remember to update the information whenever you go to a different campground.


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