You say “how about a tag for your dog that contains a USB flash drive,” and the keep-it-simple crowd bursts into derisive laughter. Their argument: A tag with a flash drive is expensive and it’s pointless, since the person who finds your dog may not know what a flash drive is or may not have access to a computer. And who, besides you, needs a ton of information about your dog’s medical history and care requirements? All someone else needs is your phone number, so they can get your dog back to you.
Another crowd, however, thinks a USB flash drive dog tag is a pretty cool idea. Their argument: Lost dogs with medical conditions like epilepsy or severe allergies need special attention and, often, regular medication. It may take hours before a dog’s chip can be read and her vet’s office contacted, and that’s time that some dogs can’t afford. The information on the flash drive could be read right away. (Why not just call the dog’s owner, who’s surely also attached a phone number to her dog’s collar? The promotional materials for these products are pretty tactful, but the gist is that the lost dog’s owner may not be available, either temporarily or permanently. It’s probably not a coincidence that these products seem to have been developed after Hurricane Katrina.)
I think a USB flash drive tag would give some pet owners peace of mind. An owner could certainly worry that her sudden death or absence would leave a beloved pet in trouble — and in a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina, a pet’s medical records can be destroyed, so a really anxious owner could imagine her pet suddenly ownerless and without a medical history. Alternatively, if an owner were traveling abroad and her dog escaped her sitter or kennel, the contact number on the dog’s regular tag may well not work. Owners fretting about these scenarios might take comfort in knowing that their dogs are always accompanied by their medical history and information about their background, training, and care.
One option is PetSafe’s Micro I.D. Rescue Collar ($20.00 plus shipping): It looks like a normal dog collar, except that clinging to it is a chunky plastic enclosure (I’m estimating it’s about 2″ by 1″ by 1.5″) containing a small USB flash drive. I’m more drawn to waterproof hanging tags like the PCPetID ($19.95 plus shipping), or the Top Tag Pet ID ($39.95 plus shipping) — though I vigorously object to the claim by their makers that this kind of tag is better than a microchip because it only requires a computer, not a scanner. That’s lame: Collars and tags can and do come off dogs, but a chip is permanent.
An even sleeker option is the KoogaTag ($29.95 plus shipping) offered by KoogaPet.com. Their tag is truly tiny — hardly bigger than the the part of a flash drive that’s actually inserted into your computer. According to a New York Times article about the product, the company was able to keep the tag small “by leaving the tag’s electronic contacts exposed. The company says contacts will not corrode unless exposed to seawater for long periods.” Though the contacts are exposed, the tag is waterproof. An 800 number is printed on the tag, as is a number unique to your dog.
KoogaPet envisions your dog only carrying a KoogaTag, clearly, but I suggest that you use it (or any other flash drive tag) as a supplement to your existing tag. In many situations, a simple phone number will do the trick, so why not provide it? I would hang your KoogaTag so that its contacts side faces away from your other tags, to ensure that the contacts aren’t constantly whacked by the other tags. It may not be necessary, but it’s what I’d do.
Will I get a flash drive tag for Chloe? Probably not, though I do love pet gear and I am an anxious gal — she’s a healthy dog, and she already has a bunch of stuff hanging off her small neck.