Tatoo-A-Pet: Marking

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Pine resident Ivars Junakais' two dogs shepherd/rottweiler mixes named Mamus and Simis bear tattoos. But even though they're mother and son, Simis' tattoo is not a heart with "Mom" inscribed inside.

Junakais is the district representative for a peat identification system call Tatoo-A-Pet, and his rottweiller-shepherd mixes were his original subjects.

For a one-time fee of $35, Junakais will come to your home and tattoo your pet. The painless procedure allows the animal to be registered through Tatoo-A-Pet's computerized nationwide system for easy identification should it be lost or stolen.

Junakais, who is a full-time security consultant, said the system has a documented 99 percent recovery rate for lost pets.

"I had a dog stolen down in the Valley, and I got on the Internet and researched the subject very thoroughly," Junakais said. "There's only a handful of tattoo companies, and this one has been around since 1972."

He said he chose a tattoo identification system over more expensive bio-chip implant systems for several reasons besides their average cost of $80. With implant systems, a chip the size of a grain of rice containing electronic information is injected into the animal's back with a large hypodermic needle.

"One problem is that there are no universal scanners, so a humane society or other agency has to have three different readers to read the five kinds of chips that are out there," Junakais said. "Very few do."

Because the chip is covered by hair, it's also difficult to know a pet has one. And, according to Junakais, chips have been known to "travel" and cause health problems.

"They can clog arteries or cause problems in certain organs," he said.

Another advantage of his system, Junakais said, is that tattoos are foolproof. "They are impossible to remove."

With the Tatoo-A-Pet system, a coded tattoo is put on the animal's right hind quarter above the stomach area. Simis' tattoo, for example, reads "TAZO2." The "T" identifies the Tatoo-A-Pet program, "AZ" stands for Arizona, "O" for this region, and "2" is the dog's personal identification number. Mamu is tattooed "TAZO1."

Pet owners are also provided with warning decals for home and car. The whole procedure usually takes about five minutes.

"First I meet the animal, give him treats, let him get used to me," Junakais said. "Then I practice on him without a needle to get him used to the instrument and the vibration. It's a very sanitary process that includes shaving the area, swabbing it with alcohol, and putting a triple antibiotic on it after I'm done. The needle only penetrates 1/32 of an inch, so it's not like a human tattoo. Animal hides are much stronger and more pliable than a human's skin and they hold ink much better. I've never had a pet bleed."

Tatoo-A-Pet said its nationwide system allows instant recognition and identification around-the-clock. The company also guarantees veterinary payment for emergency medical care.

For more information or to schedule an appointment to have your pet tattooed, call Junakais at 472-4698.

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