You are likely familiar with Jack London, the author of the celebrated novels The Call of the Wild and White Fang. Now meet another Jack London, a Fox Terrier who lived the last and some of the best years of his life when he—accompanied by his feline sister Naoise—moved from upstate New York to Soho with his dad. When they weren’t jiving and jousting with their new urban friends and acquaintances in Washington Square Park, they were chasing grey squirrels and pigeons—off-leash—in Washington Square Park. A big no-no, but they did it anyway.
Regrettably, a few times the wild-at-heart Jack got separated from his dad—and with him his dutiful shadow, Naoise. Lost in unfamiliar territory, the adventurous old pup, trailed by his reluctant companion, miraculously made it past the Washington Arch on his aging bones, but never all the way home somewhere off Houston Street. Thankfully, good animal-loving Samaritans found them, read their dog and cat tags, and shepherded them home. No fewer than five times were Jack and Naoise reunited with their dad in this way, thanks to their Ketchum Dog Head and Cat Silhouette pet tags.
Given Naoise’s distinguished Celtic lineage, her cat tag on occasion allowed her entry into the exclusive McSorley’s Old Ale House in East Village. As her official escort and body guard, Jack too was granted entrance there. While on the premises, and curled up discreetly on the sawdust-covered floor at the feet of his dad, he gleefully partook in a classic hot roast beef sandwich with provolone cheese (but hold the horseradish, please).
With New York rabies tags documenting the animals’ vaccination status, pet tags such as theirs verify that amiable animals like them pose no health hazards to humans. Since the Covid-19 pandemic brought to the forefront the risks of animal-to-human disease transmission, even the most laissez-faire amongst us have become cautious about contamination in our surroundings. Now more than ever it is imperative for dogs and cats to display their pet tags out in public to put everyone at ease. And while Naoise may prefer the lazing luxury of a plush couch over a pulse-pounding chase through the streets of New York that fires up Jack, dog and cat tags assure visitors and neighbors of the animals’ safety.
In the U.S., many municipalities across states require pets to wear pet tags. In New York, for example, before a puppy reaches five months, a dog license is mandatory, as it is a matter of public health and safety. Applying for and renewing a New York State dog license can easily be done online. In other locales, such as Fulton County, Georgia, the process can be completed at PetData.com. The fines for not having a dog license are often exponentially higher than the cost of the license. For example, according to the municipal website in Loudoun County, Virginia, the annual dog license fee is $10 (but free for service animals), while the fine for not having a license is a Class IV misdemeanor, which can carry up to a $250 fine!
Stringent licensing policies make it possible for states to keep track of the pet population and act swiftly in the event of a public health emergency involving animals. It is heartwarming to know that a percentage of the licensing fee often goes toward animal shelters that provide a vital service in our communities.
While globe-trotting Jack did have a 15-digit, ISO-compliant microchip necessary for international travel (to Toronto and London, to name a few of his destinations), the readily legible information on his dog tag made it easy for his rescuers to reach his dad without involving the authorities. During the last weeks of his life, Jack’s dad took him for a daily horse-and-buggy ride through Central Park, and later often stopped by Mille-Feuille Bakery on LaGuardia Place for his favorite treat—a warm croissant freshly made in this lovely pâtisserie française.
Refusing to be separated from her best friend for long, Naoise followed soon after. Now Jack’s dad keeps his beloved pets’ dog and cat tags—an irreplicable keepsake—tucked in the sleeve of his laptop case.