The drill at this particular reception desk is probably a lot like the one at your vet’s office with ringing phones, questions, yapping dogs and meowing cats and more questions. Endless questions.

Alyssa Antrosiglio is one of as many as four people working the front desk at the Power Road Animal Hospital in suburban Phoenix, Arizona, and she juggles it all with surprising calm.

“You have to be a good multi-tasker,” she explains. “That’s just part of being a receptionist.”

As the morning crush begins to subside, Alyssa shows me how she prepares the medical files for the next day. Records.Updated page for the scheduled procedure. Surgery release form. Cage card. And a TabBand Max animal identification collar.

She writes the date, owner’s name, and animal’s name on a 20-inch long white TabBand Max and includes it in the folder, ready for tomorrow’s rush hours. Boarding animals will get a red pet identification band. When the pet shows up, it’s an easy step to put on the collar and snip off any excess length of material.

It’s even a good idea to take off the animal’s permanent collar and hand it to the owner, to avoid losing it or having it get in the way.

In the controlled chaos of a veterinary clinic, it’s hard to imagine how the staff could keep everything straight without on-animal identification. In spite of that, lots of clinics still count on cage cards and flawless memory to distinguish one black cat from another.

Face it, we’re not perfect. As Dr. Larry Neiman puts it brutally, “I wouldn’t operate without them. Somebody is going to screw up.”

That’s why organizations such as the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) Professional Liability Insurance Trust call for positive animal identification.

Consultant Dr. David Goodnight says he thinks any animal separated from its owner needs a band, “Even if dropped off for an hour or less.”

“We make a show of it,” says Sharon DeNayer, Practice Manager of Windsor Veterinary Clinic in Colorado. “It’s important for people to know that we’re doing everything possible to keep their pets safe while they’re here.”

Unfortunately, some clinics have given up on pet ID bands after the ones they bought didn’t work. They fell off. The writing smeared when wet. The colors ran and turned a white poodle blue. If you’ve had a bad experience, consider testing a different brand. Try both TabBand and your current collars. Your own side-by-side comparison will sort out which will work better.

Back at the front desk, Alyssa Antrosiglio snags some fast-bouncing client questions. The price of a procedure.A brand of liquid pain-killer. A few years ago she fielded calls for a shoe company and says she prefers this kind of stress. “After all,” she smiles, “where else would I get to play with puppies and kittens all day?”

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