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Grant will tag animals adopted from shelter

COVINGTON -- Dogs and cats that are adopted from the Newton County animal control shelter will soon get an extra safeguard to make sure they never have to return.

Newton County Animal Control has received a $6,000 grant that will fund 300 tags to issue to cats and dogs when they are adopted, along with an engraving unit to include the owner's contact information on the tag. The grant is through the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and is being administered by the National Animal Control Association. ASPCA awarded the National Animal Control Association $150,000 to implement tagging programs in municipal and county animal care and control agencies.

According to Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of shelter research and development for ASPCA, the association's research indicates that while most pet owners know it's a good idea to have their animal tagged, only about a third actually do.

"There's a disparity between behavior and attitude," she said. Based on follow-ups with pet owners that have used the tags in the past, ASPCA concluded that 89 percent kept the tags on their pets after receiving them.

"It's like giving a vaccine; it's a preventative tool to keep them out of the shelter and get them home," Weiss said.

ASPCA did a random dial survey of more than 1,000 pet-owning households across the country that indicated that 15 percent of dog and cat owners have lost their pets during the last five years. Ninety-three percent of dogs were recovered, and 15 percent were recovered due to ID tags. Only 6 percent of dogs and 2 percent of cats were recovered at local animal shelters.

Newton County Animal Control will send a monthly report on how many animals have been tagged as part of the grant requirement.