COLUMBUS , Ohio A lost dog is more likely to be reunited with its owner than a lost cat, according to two new studies.
In one city in southwestern Ohio , researchers found that 71 percent of lost dogs were found, compared to just 53 percent of lost cats.
More than a third of the recovered dogs were found by a call or visit to an animal shelter. More than one in four dogs were found because the animal wore a dog license or identification tag at the time of its disappearance.
"The animal control system is a key component in the recovery of lost dogs, but owners have to be vigilant about calling and visiting these agencies," said Linda Lord, the lead author of both studies and an assistant professor of veterinary preventive medicine. "Some form of visual identification is also critical to the recovery of a pet, and can result in a faster recovery."
Although Ohio law requires that dogs be licensed, just 41 percent of the lost dogs in the study wore a license at the time of their disappearance. Less than half (48 percent) of dogs had an identification tag or microchip when they went missing. Microchips, which are implanted under the skin, provide permanent identification about where a pet belongs. Cat owners aren't required to identify their pet, and 19 percent of lost cats had a tag or microchip at the time they were lost.
More than half of the cats returned on their own, but less than one in 10 dogs did.
The results of the two studies appear in the January 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
"Cat owners tend to wait longer to call and visit a shelter," said Lord, adding that cat owners waited about three days before contacting a local animal shelter, while dog owners waited about a day to do so. The cats that stayed missing during the study may have been in a shelter, and could have been euthanized because their owner didn't call or visit the shelter."