Salt Lake County Animal Services will celebrate National Tag Day today by handing out 1,000 free animal identification tags through Monday.

The tags will be available to anyone who stops at the Animal Services shelter, 511 W. 3900 South, or from an animal control officer in the field.Shelter hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday.

While the free tags are available, "we are encouraging people to license their animals. The identification tags are not a replacement for required licenses," said Animal Services Director David R. Flagier.

In addition, late fees on past due dog licenses will be waived through Monday, March 29, for anyone renewing their pet's licence in the county agency's jurisdiction. An exception to the late fee waiver applies to pets that have already been impounded.

National Tag Day is a new campaign to promote life saving benefits of keeping current identification on pets, including licenses, identification tags and microchips. Microchips are small devices implanted under the skin of an animal that identifies the owner of an animal.

"We make every effort to locate the owner when the animal is wearing tags, even when the search leads us out-of-state. Nearly every animal with a current tag is reunited wtih its owner, and those reunions are very exciting for us. We just wish it happened more often," says shelter manager Jackie Strasters.

Only about 25 percent of the 7,770 lost dogs that came through the county shelter last year were licensed and/or had a microchip implanted. Numbers for cats are even fewer.