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December is National Pet ID Month

Jack Russell Terrier dog alone on the road carrying a stick and a bundle
Each year, thousands of lost cats and dogs across Australia arrive at shelters but have no way of being reunited with their owners... Either because they are not carrying a microchip or pet ID Tag and cannot be identified or their owner’s contact details are out of date.

December is a particularly busy time for shelters across Australia as they are inundated with pets that have escaped and become lost due to fireworks, thunderstorms and holidaying owners.

National Pet ID Month is an annual awareness raising month initiated by the National Pet Register and The Lost Dogs’ Home (VIC) to remind pet owners to identify their pets with a microchip, collar tag and to keep contact information current so that all lost pets can be returned home.


1) Mark December in your calendar as National Pet ID Month and an annual reminder to get on top of your pet’s identification: does your dog need a new tag displaying his name, address and your mobile number?

2) Learn how to identify your pet, update your details and what to do if you lose a pet or find a lost pet.

3. Check your pet's microchip is working at your next vet Health & Wellness Check. Your vet can also log into the pet registry services and let you know if your details are out of date. It is up to you then to make the necessary changes.


Having your pet identified is a simple and effective way to ensure they will always have a return ticket home! There are two main methods of pet identification and the recommendation is having both a microchip and collar ID tag for your pet.

Diagram showing how a pet microchip works
Microchips are the most effective method of permanent animal identification available. Approximately the size of a grain of rice, a microchip is implanted in an animal with a sterile needle or implanting device, in the soft scruff of the neck. It is an extremely common and safe procedure.

Each microchip contains a unique identification number which is registered on a national database corresponding to the pet’s record and owner’s contact information. Microchip numbers are 15 digits long and usually commence with a 9.

The microchip certificate may also be required as proof of ownership when registering a pet with your local council.

Please note microchip registration is separate from council registration and pet owners need to do both.

Ideally your pet dog (or cat) should be microchipped prior to you purchasing or adopting your pet. This is the only way to effectively trace its origins. However, if your pet is not yet microchipped, then we recommend that you make an appointment to do so with your vet. 
Microchipping for dogs and cats is mandatory in ACT, NSW, QLD, VIC and WA. Microchipping for dogs only is compulsory in TAS

If a pet is transferred to a new owner (e.g. adoption), the new owner must ensure their contact details are recorded on the database.


There are a number of pet registry services available in Australia but we only listed those licensed by the AVA (Australian Veterinary Association) and local governments.

If your pet is already registered but you can't recall which register you pet is on, visit

1) National Pet Register

The National Pet Register was established in 1989 by The Lost Dogs’ Home and is one of Australia’s largest and most trusted microchip registers and pet identification service providers. With over 1 million pets on its database, it helps reunite over 28,000 lost pets Australia-wide, every year. 

All pets with a microchip registered with the National Pet Register automatically receive a free ID tag. The Collar ID tags are manufactured from UV-stabilised nylon and are designed to clip flat around a collar. Stamped into the tag are the recovery call centre number and unique ID number. 

These free pet ID tags are available to all pet owners at They accept registrations for any type of animal that can wear a collar, not just dogs and cats!

If your name, address or telephone number have changed you can notify the register by simply calling 1300 REG PET with your pet’s microchip or ID tag number. You can also use the 1300 hotline to clarify which register your pet is on.

Border Collie Dog being scanned for his microchip
To locate a lost pet’s owner through its microchip, the pet will need to go to a shelter, pound or veterinary clinic to be scanned by a microchip reader. 

Staff will then contact National Pet Register and give the microchip number to a customer service operator to look up on the database and provide the owner’s contact details. 

2) Central Animal Records

Established in 1989, Central Animal Records commenced operation as one of Australia's first microchip registries. It provides a 24 hour  / 7 day per week National Animal Recovery Service for microchipped pets.

Puppy found and waiting at the dog shelter
3) Petsafe

The Petsafe network is a pet recovery system that provides a national 24 hour web-based service, seven days a week, every day of the year.

Once your pet is registered, you will also receive  a rugged external and engraved brass collar tag (with a Free Call telephone number on its reverse) giving your pet a second chance to be traced back home to you quickly and easily.

4) Australasian Animal Registry

The Australasian Animal Registry (AAR) was established in 1989 and is the largest not-for-profit and most comprehensive animal registration and recovery service in Australasia.

Currently AAR maintains records for over 1.5 million animals and is growing daily. They register all animals - dogs, cats, birds, horses, reptiles and even ferrets.

5) Home Safe ID

HomeSafeID was established in partnership with the RSPCA Qld in order to deliver microchips directly to the customer ex-factory along with lifetime registrations and readers at a very competitive price whilst maintaining the highest of standards. 

6) Global Micro Animal Registry

The newest registry Global Micro will accept registration of any animal that can be microchipped and offers a 24/7 service for lost pets. You can choose your level of pet protection: Basic Membership or Gold Membership, with a range of additional benefits you can access year-round. 

Their VIP Gold Membership offers an Australia wide Spotters network that geographically targets other pet owners and vets in your local area (or the area where your pet was last seen), and surrounding suburbs in minutes. Once you go online and report your pet lost, Lost Pet posters can be printed immediately showing a picture and information on your pet, as well as your contact details.

7) NSW Pet Registry

The NSW Pet Registry is an online database of microchipped and registered cats and dogs that live in NSW. The register has been designed to return lost pets to their owners and to promote responsible pet ownership in the community.

Cat carrying computer house and dog carrying a tablet
Owners are encouraged to create an online profile and claim their existing pets and to register ownership of any new cats and dogs. The register will give you access to update your contact details, report your pet missing and change the ownership of pets. 

We had registered each of our dogs with the local council so we decided to give it a try! After setting up our online account (confirming our identity), it only took us 5 minutes to "search" then "claim" our 3 dogs: all their details were correctly listed, however we noticed that our oldest had no name (for the past 9 years!) so it really does pay to check... You can also add any identifying marks for each pet.

If your pet was born and microchipped outside NSW, your pet's microchip number and details need to be entered by an authorised veterinarian or your local council prior to using this site.

Please keep in mind that this is not a national database so if you take your dogs on holidays interstate or are moving to another part of Australia, you will need to select one of the national pet registries mentioned above and record again your dog's details and your new contact details to ensure you can be reunited.

St Bernard and Jack Russell Terrier dogs locked in a council pound van
Don't let your dog be a statistic! - Photo Credit: Craig Borrow


1. Search the neighbourhood

Circle the area your pet was last seen calling and whistling, make the circle bigger and bigger, asking people as you see them to help.

Make familiar sounds, such as tapping the side of a food can and calling out their name. Tell your neighbours and enlist their help to search for your pet.

Go door knocking with a photo and description of your pet and consider offering a reward. Be sure to check in ceilings, buildings, trees etc for cats. Ask local shopkeepers to put a notice up and attach some to power poles in the area.

2. Call your local vets to see if  your pet has been left with them

As your pet could have been picked up, extend your search to 20km if necessary. Call regularly and consider dropping off a flyer with all the animal's information.

3. Contact your pet registry service and notify them that your animal has been lost so this can be logged in. Ensure your details are up to date and you will be contacted as soon as the animal is found.

Maisy the Beagle reunited with her family after six years
Maisy, the Beagle reunited with her family after nearly 6 years
Photo Credit: Young Williams Animal Center
4. Check with the local council and animal shelters for their holding times and always go and visit the shelters

Descriptions can be misleading: be sure to leave all details including registration details, colour, age, size, tag and microchip and a photo so they can look for your pet. 

Remember you may only have as little as 3 days to collect your dog and it can be even less for a cat. 

5. Place an ad in the lost/found section of your local newspaper to widen the search. Don't forget to check the found section in case your animal has been located. 

6. There are also websites that can assist you with your search: 
This site is dedicated to lost and found animals within Australia and offers a free message board service.

Lost Pet Finders is at the heart of an ever expanding network of vets, pounds, animal agencies, neighbours and animal lovers determined to help lost pets find their way home.
Lost or Found pet listings are free including a printable flyer and Facebook post. The optional Pet Alert service starts from $14.95, depending on the size of the coverage area and people included in it.

This pet website is dedicated to reuniting lost and found pets with their owners, as well as finding pets available for adoption into new homes! For a one-off fee of $4.95, they will list your missing pet profile on their site and share this listing via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, Tumblr, Digg, StumbleUpon etc.

Lost Pets of South Australia - Facebook page (volunteer network with Search & Assist Team in the field).

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