Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jiffy Tags

One of my personal peeves is that we harp on people for not putting ID tags on their pets,and then make it hideously hard for people to put an ID tag on their pet.

Think about it. Need a collar and tag for your pet? Chances are good a cat collar will run you 5-7 dollars. If your cat goes out, he'll likely lose it at least once a year. It needs to be a real breakaway collar, not some leather thing. Sometimes we can find cheap collars, but not often.

Then there's the tag. You should be able to pick one up for a buck or two, right? Not on your life. You'll have to come up with around $7 to buy tokens to go make one in that machine over there. Or you can buy some shrinky dink thing you have to buy for 10 bucks and cook in your oven to boot. Or you can send away in the POSTAL MAIL to have someone send you one back, also in the overall neighborhood of $10. $17 to put ID on your cat. You can feed one cat for a month for that. And maybe buy a bag of litter, to boot, if you feed cheaper food and use cheaper litter.

If you are lucky enough to live close to an animal shelter, they may engrave one for you for free, or for a small donation, because they know how important it is.

Where you are going to buy one, however, they are going to make you pay, and pay dearly.

I always tell dog owners to write their home phone number on the dog's nylon collar with a permanent marker, but I have to admit, the last time I found a stray dog, I looked for a tag (none) but I don't even think I thought to examine the collar closely on the fuzzy fellow.

A wonderful woman at a foundation recently offered me 500 surplus collars they had. I said I'd take her up on the offer if I could get tags. I had this dream of buying a bulk box of Jiffy Tags ($320) and giving away collars and tags, or at least giving them away for the cost of postage, for as long as I could. The $320 was always elusive, however. I'd check the ACES catalog and stare at the tags longingly.

Then, when the new catalog came out, they were no longer there.

I searched online. No bulk box. In a panic, I called them. Jiffy Tags are seriously the only instant tag where you can see all of the information clearly. The others require you to tag a piece of paper out of the plastic holder, or squint. As a 50-year-old, I know how squinting no longer does the job.

ACES was wonderful. Apparently the place that makes Jiffy Tags is going out of business (retirement). I hope that ACES or another place will buy the equipment, and keep making them. I wish they would market them harder to rescuers and shelters. Most small shelters adopter less than 500 animals a year. 500 tags that go out on their own pets, and 500 to give away or sell, would make a big dent.

There is research that shows 3 out of 4 cats will keep a collar on (some will not, but you ought to try). It's the jingling that drives me mad (another reason I like the paper/plastic Jiffy Tags). Research has also shown that you can't just give the tag to people. You need to PUT IT ON THE PET to increase the success of getting ID on that animals. So collar training our adoptable pets before adoption is a good idea, and then we should affix a tag with the adoptee's address at the time of adoption. That, of course, costs money and time.

At any rate, guess what I did:

I now have the makings for a thousand ID tags. ACES still had a few bulk boxes in stock. They just didn't have enough to put in the catalog. So I spent all of my Christmas money (don't worry, friends, not the mortgage refinance money!) on a box. I wish I could have purchased two. While I'm pretty sure the offer of collars, which was made many months ago, is probably not an option, I'll check in on that in case they are kicking around still and need a home. If if that's so, I'll put a little icon here and on my blog, giving away a collar and tag (maybe two tags) for the cost of postage. I'll also include an info sheet on how to gently train your cat to a collar.

And yes, I have a photo. No, I did not find my camera. While cleaning my pantry, I found an old beater camera that I have and, hey, it still works? So while it won't be good for getting great adoption photos, it will do for the blog.

In a perfect world, you could buy a cat collar for around $3 and pick up a $2 instant ID tag at the checkout line at our big box pet stores. I'm guessing there is some non-compete rule to have one of those big engraving machines in their store (that's a guess), however I think they'd make more money off selling instant tags off the rack, even if they had to go as high as $3. The problem with the bulk box, for stores, is that the tag makings aren't individually wrapped. They are more expensive if purchased in their little individual packaging.

I'm now off to get supplies to do some repairs in the cat facility. More on that adventure later! It involves electricity.

Post Note: Here is a company that offers $4.95 tags with no shipping if you just go first-class mail. That's pretty good:


  1. That's really good advice. Pets should always have an id tag or microchip. You just never know, right?

    Good luck on those repairs (electricity ... scary!).

  2. When I was a kid, we had a dog that kept breaking his leads or getting out of the fencing we put him in and running away. When he was AWOL, he also managed to lose his dog license tag and rabies tag when they were hanging from his collar. He would snag them on a fence and the tags would come off or he'd lose his entire collar. So my father riveted the tags flush on his collar. Whenever he ran away, he would usually come back within a day. A couple of times, my parents got calls from the dog warden and had to go spring him. But he ran away after his tags were riveted to his collar and we didn't hear from him for weeks. My mother, especially, was heartbroken. We assumed that someone had taken him in or that he had been hit by a car. One afternoon about a month after he ran away, one of the local shelters called. Apparently the dog warden had picked him up and he ended up there. He stayed there for a month. They saw he had a collar, but didn't see any tags hanging from it, and thought he had no ID.(He was a very long haired dog.)No one came to claim him. And after he had been there for 30 days, they had to put him down. They had given him the first shot. But one of the people holding him during the process somehow touched his collar and realized the tags were attached to it. They looked up the dog license and called us. My parents went and picked him up. He was quite sedated, but we were glad he managed to cheat death.