Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Microchip Can Bring Your Pet Home

By Eliza Wynn

Uh-oh. Little Bootsie went out the doggie door, and you had no idea someone had left the gate open. Now you can't find her. If someone else does, will that person be able to find you?

As a loving and responsible pet owner, you want your pet to be safe at all times. In the event that your pet gets loose and starts roaming the streets, getting her back home is essential. Home escapes aren't the only potential dangers, though; pets can also find themselves alone and vulnerable after accidents and natural disasters. Pets with microchips are much more likely than those without them to be reunited with their owners. This means that if your dog or cat doesn't have a registered microchip, you're taking a huge risk.

In early August, a Pomeranian named Koda was reunited with his family in Arkansas after somehow making his way to a shelter in California. Shortly before that, Wobbles the Shih Tzu went home after being missing for about a year. Not to be outdone, a Massachusetts cat named Charlie was recently found 25 miles from home after just 1 day. What do these pets have in common? They all experienced the joy of a happy reunion simply because they had registered microchips.

When a stray dog or cat ends up at a shelter, the workers immediately look for a collar with an I.D. tag. They should also use a low-frequency scanner to check the animal for a microchip, which will contain a registered identification number unique to that pet. Ideally, the scan is successful, and the information in the pet registry matches what's on the I.D. tag. It's also crucial for the information to be current; if your pet is missing, you don't want the shelter to try to find you or your emergency contact at an old telephone number.

Pet microchipping is a simple, painless procedure. True to its name, the chip is tiny – about the size of a grain of rice. It is injected between the pet's shoulder blades, and afterward, you should be able to feel it just underneath the loose skin.

In some areas, pet microchipping is a requirement. Additionally, animal shelters and rescue organizations commonly require microchipping as a condition of adoption. Many perform the procedure before your new family member can go home and even insist that you fill out the registration form so that they can mail it. After all, the microchip will be useless if the identifying information never makes it into the pet registry.

If you adopt a pet that already has a microchip, be sure to update the contact information. You can find out how to do this by asking the shelter where you adopted the pet; you can also ask the vet when you go for the first checkup. There may be a small fee for the update, but the ability to bring your pet home safely is more than worth the price.

Obviously, microchipping won't ensure that your pet will never be lost, but if it does happen, a registered and up-to-date microchip substantially increases the likelihood of a happy reunion. When your pet returns after her big adventure, give her a nice welcome home with lots of hugs, kisses and CANIDAE dog treats.

Top photo by David~O
Bottom photo by Michael Neel

Read more articles by Eliza Wynn

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