Thursday, April 8, 2010
By Suzanne Alicie
Pet identification microchips are becoming a common step for pet owners to take in order to protect their pet. A microchip about the size of a grain of rice is inserted under the pet’s skin. This is not a surgical procedure and doesn’t usually require sedation. The microchip is inserted using a large needle, into the area between the pet’s shoulder blades. Many times pet owners have a chip inserted while their pet is being spayed or neutered.
These tiny chips have unique numbers embedded on them, and the owner must register the number which will link the pet to the owner. If your pet happens to get lost, most vets and animal shelters have a scanner to check found pets for microchip numbers. Once the chip is scanned and the number is retrieved, the microchip company can be called and given the chip number. With the chip number it is easy to look in the database and find the owners information in order to get the pet back home safely.
If you travel with your pet, either by air or by car, it is always a good idea to have a microchip implanted in them. Between airline mishaps, and pets that run away at rest areas, the chance of becoming separated or losing your dog or cat while traveling are fairly high.
If your pet is an indoor only animal, you might think there is no need for a microchip, but many times indoor cats and dogs may not wear a collar or tags all the time. This means if something happens and your pet slips out the door, he has no identification to separate him from the other strays that are picked up. With a microchip you stand a much better chance of getting your pet back safe and sound.
You might think that this much technology packed onto a tiny chip implanted in your pet would be expensive, but you may be surprised. The insertion fee varies from vet to vet, but generally costs between $30 and $50. Registration with a microchip company is usually a onetime fee of around $20. There may be an additional fee if you need to change the information at a later date.
There are several microchip companies to choose from, but the two most widely used in the United States are Home Again and AVID. No matter which microchip company you choose, any scanner will indicate the presence of a chip whether it can read the chip or not, so once someone finds your pet and determines that a chip is present it is simply a matter of using a different scanner to read the chip. Additionally, some microchip companies now produce universal scanners and provide them to animal shelters and animal control agencies at no or very low cost.
These microchips often make the news when they help reunite a lost pet with their family, sometimes after many years of being apart. Such was the case recently for a cat named Shusha, who had gone missing and ended up living in a tack room several miles from its home. The woman who owned the tack room took Shusha to the vet to have her scanned for a microchip. Because of the presence of a tiny piece of technology, the Johnson family was reunited with their beloved cat after 3 long years.
The many pleasures our pets bring into our lives make the small expense of inserting a microchip a worthwhile expenditure. Microchipped pets that accidentally become lost are much likelier to be quickly reunited with the family who loves and misses them.
Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie