Never replace your pets ID tag again

Many people move around to different addresses, and change their phone numbers multiple times throughout the lives of their pets. Updating your pets ID tag every time you move or change numbers can be a pain and if you somehow forget to update it, there could be very costly circumstances when Rover runs away. Thankfully, I have a easy and cheap way to solve this problem!

Never replace your dog ID tags again

Rover can keep his tag forever

The solution is to use an address that will never change, a domain name address (URL). The first step is to register an appropriate domain name, in my case I chose amstelthedog.com. A domain name costs roughly $7 a year, about the same price or cheaper than a dog tag. Once you have the domain name picked out you will need a web hosting service. There are many free hosting services available, here is an article on Lifehacker.com featuring the best free hosting providers out there. Another option would be to create a free Blogger, WordPress page, or even engrave the URL  of your Twitter or Facebook page. Note: You could also create a short & catchy domain name and have it redirect to anywhere you wanted through the domain settings.

Now once you have a domain name and hosting provider, you will need to put some details on a simple web page. Maybe your email address, or your home address and phone number if you don’t mind having that information out on the internet. Information about your dog and details about what to do and how to contact you if the pet is lost would also be helpful.

Create Contact Form w/ Google Docs

Create Contact Form w/ Google Docs

If you want to get fancy and you have some HTML skills you can create a simple web Contact Form, where they could enter their name, phone number, & message and click submit. That way you would not have to display your email address and other personal information to the public. You can also have the form send to multiple email accounts. An easy way to create a contact form is to use a free Google Apps account. Using Google Docs you can quickly create a simple contact form with email notification. There’s almost no HTML or web design knowledge required. Here is a nice tutorial video on YouTube on how to do this.

AmstelTheDog.com

AmstelTheDog.com

Some things to consider:

  • What if the person finding the lost dog doesn’t have access to the internet, or understand what the address means? The internet and domain names are so mainstream now that it is unlikely someone won’t know what to do with it or be able to ask someone that will understand it. I guess it will depend on your neighborhood or geographic location, if you feel comfortable with it or not.
  • Why not just engrave your email address? E-mail addresses are more likely to change. You can’t control where the submissions are coming from or how they are formatted, so they are more likely to get marked as spam. Also, in most cases it will be harder to fit your email address on the tag, than it would be to fit a domain name.
  • What if an important email from my neighbor gets caught in my spam filter? Format the incoming submissions so they don’t look like spam and use a trusted “from” address in your form. You could also have the form submit to multiple email addresses. You, your spouse, a work email, etc.
  • What if I can’t fit the domain name or important information on the tag? Pick a small domain name and leave out the “www.” if you are comfortable with doing that. I fit everything I needed on a very small tag for my new puppy.
  • Won’t my email address and form get hit by spammers? If you do not spread your URL around,  promote it at all, or submit it to search engines then the chances of it getting hit hard by spammers will be relatively low.
  • What if I don’t immediately have access to check my email? You could set it up so that emails from your lost pet form go straight to your cell phone via SMS, using an SMS gateway or other service.
Use a Google Voice that never changes

Use a Google Voice number that never changes

One final option is to use Google Voice / GrandCentral. Last week Google launched a limited release of their new Google Voice app. This allows you to have one phone number assigned by Google that you can keep with you your whole life. You can then manage your home, cell, work numbers from the account and set up appropriate forwarding. If you are lucky enough to have an account, you could use that number on your pets tag!

So there you have it, a lot of  good options to go ‘high tech’ with your pet.

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