Sadly, millions of dogs and cats become lost each year. Unfortunately, few are reunited with their owners. Many lost pets end up in shelters where a few are rehomed, but where the majority is euthanized. It is important that your pet wears his identification at all times. Collars and tags are of utmost importance, as in rabies, city registration tags and veterinary tags and personal ID. But they can fall off or become damaged. A tattoo on the inner ear or on the inside thigh is an option, but microchips are the latest invention for permanent identification.
How it Works
A microchip is a tiny computer chip about the size of a grain of rice. The microchip is implanted between the pet’s shoulder blades under the skin with a needle and a special syringe. They experience very little pain, if any, because implantation of the chip is similar to an injection. Once in place, the microchip can be detected immediately with a handheld device, a scanner, that uses radio waves to read the chip. This device scans the microchip, and then displays a unique alphanumeric code. The pet must then be registered with the microchip company, usually for a one-time fee. If found, the dog can then be traced back to the owner. But the information must be kept up-to-date by calling the microchip company and notifying them of the new data.
- Microchips are designed to last for the life of a dog. They do not need to be charged or replaced.
- Some microchips have been known to migrate from the area between the shoulder blades, but the instructions for scanning emphasize the need to scan the dog’s entire body.
- A microchipped pet can be easily identified if found by a shelter or veterinary office in possession of a scanner.
- Depending on the brand of microchip and the year it was implanted, even so-called universal scanners may not be able to detect the microchip.
- As technology continues to improve, microchip manufacturers, veterinarians and animal shelters have been working on solutions to the imperfections..
No method of identification is perfect so, the best thing you can do to protect your dog or cat is to be a responsible owner. Keep current identification tags on your animal at all times, such as rabies and city registration tags, veterinary tag and personal ID, microchip as reinforcement. Never allow your dog or cat to roam free. If your pet does become lost, the more identification the pet wears, the better the odds of finding your beloved companion.
Case in point, on Thursday, December 11, 2008, Steve Blow, columnist for the Dallas Morning News wrote a “feel good article” entitled Lost Dog’s Tale Has A Happy Ending. It is the saga of a stray dog, a black Labrador who lived for one year in the parking lot behind the building of the Dallas Morning News. Good hearted people tried to catch this furtive animal during those twelve months to no avail. Finally with the help of Capp Evans, an experienced dog handler, Shadow was captured. To everyone’s astonishment, when taken to a veterinary clinic to be vetted, the dog was microchipped. One phone call and the dog was reunited with her owner after missing for over 12 months!
This is another article illustrating the importance of microchipping one’s pet, Kansas Woman Returns Lost Dog to Texas, reporting by Kate Blake, Fort Worth (CBS 11 News) – http://cbs11tv.com/pets/lost.dog.found.2.894735.html.