Low cost microchip clinics are springing up around the country. Owners should take heed – these are not GPS units with batteries that can tell you where Fido or Fluffy are at any given moment (proven controversial for pet health at best).
A microchip may give some assurance for finding your lost pet, but it doesn’t take the place of responsible pet ownership. That is number one when it comes to ensuring your pet’s safety, and having your pet microchipped is a responsible thing to do.
In the event of a catastrophe, or an unplanned escape from the backyard, a microchip can help you rest assured that if your pet ends up in the shelter or a veterinary rescue clinic he can be identified, and you will be notified of his whereabouts.
At low-cost clinics, for as low as $25 (depending upon your location), a veterinarian, vet tech, or vet assistant, will implant a rice size microchip right underneath the skin, between the animal’s shoulder blades. Veterinarians are encouraging Microchipping as a way to help reunite lost pets with their owners. And many shelters are implanting the chips in their adoptees, making it as much of a part of their regular routine as spay/neuter and vaccinations.
According to HomeAgain.com, the official lost pet program recommended by Petfinder.com, only 15 percent of the animals in shelters are reclaimed by their owners. Amazingly, shelters get very few calls about missing pets. Increasingly, many if not most animal shelters and veterinary hospitals have global scanners that read pet microchips from most manufacturers. It’s amazing how many they find that haven’t been registered. Some clinics are now taking that extra step, to prevent a lapse in memory resulting in a heartbreaking loss.
The sad fact is that one in three pets will become lost during its lifetime, and without some sort of identification, 90 percent of them never return home, according to HomeAgain.com,.
The American Humane Association estimates over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. HomeAgain.com cites a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association which included 53 animal shelters across the United States, which confirms the high rate of return of microchipped dogs and cats to their families. Fewer than two percent of lost cats that enter animal shelters are reunited with their families. However, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped cats jumped 2,000 percent, to over 38 percent.
That same good news applied to lost dogs. Normally about 22 percent are reunited with their families. For microchipped dogs, that percentage jumps 238 percent to a return rate of over 52 percent.
These numbers are pretty astounding and testify to why it’s so important to have your pet microchipped, and make sure your contact info is updated every time your move, change phone numbers, or email addresses.
For those not familiar with microchips, it’s no bigger than a grain of rice. It’s only function is to store a unique identification number used to retrieve the pet parent’s contact information. It is a radio-frequency identification transponder made up of just a few components encased within a slender capsule of bioglass, used extensively for implants in both humans and animals.
When a hand-held microchip scanner goes between the animal’s shoulders, the implanted microchip emits a radio frequency signal, and the scanner reads its unique code. Then, the microchip registry is called, and the registry company uses the ID number to retrieve the pet parent’s contact information from the pet recovery database.
But if the chip hasn’t been registered, it’s absolutely useless because the database will have no contact information, or outdated information, the pet owner cannot be contacted. That’s right. If the chip is not registered, there’s no record in the database. And if that information is not kept up to date, incorrect information will be in the database. When your pet is found, there’s no way of locating you. According to 24PetWatch, only 58 percent of the microchipped animals’ are registered in a database with their pet parent’s contact information.
Remember to keep the chip information with other important documents. Because when you move, the chip’s change of address and contact info, should be a must on your to-do list.
If you have a story to share about how a microchipped helped rescue a special pet or re-unite someone with their pet, please post, and it could be a future Paws for Reflection.