Monday, January 28, 2013

Microchips Help Pets Return Home More Quickly

I still remember those dreaded words, choked out by my husband that early August morning: "Gayle, Sage is lost." We were camping on the property we had just purchased; I had unzipped the tent and let Sage outside to do her business. I went back into the tent with no thought about her running away. However, her spaniel nose probably picked up the scent of a squirrel, or her acute hearing caught the sound of deer hooves -- whatever transpired, within a short window of time, our blind dog had vanished. We searched for three days, and finally, with the help of caring people, we found our nomadic blind dog, running a circular roadway two miles from our camping area. Our lost dog story had a happy ending.... many do not.

What Would You Do?
If your dog or cat were to become lost, what would you do? Like many pet owners, you'd probably post flyers, knock on doors, post to social media sites like Facebook, and contact your local animal shelter. Tags on collars with the pet owners' name and address also help, however, collars can become entangled, drop off, or (in the event of a stolen pet) be taken off. Microchips are permanent and help bring pets home.

Not Always a Happy Ending
According to some animal experts, one in three pets become lost, and nearly 90% don't return home. Microchipping is simple procedure that is done at your veterinarian’s office and is similar to providing your pet a vaccination – it requires no anesthetic and takes only a few seconds. The chip is injected between your pet's shoulder blades and contains a unique identification number that is associated with your contact information, thereby allowing your lost pet to return to you more quickly. The microchips are not tracking devices, but instead, are radio-frequency identification implants that provide permanent identification for your pet. The chip lasts the lifetime of your dog or cat. It can never fall off (like collars and tags), be removed by pet thieves (like collars and tags), and never impossible to read via a scanner (which most animal shelters have on hand to use on stray animals, checking for identification). Your pet's microchip information needs to be registered with a pet recovery database; your vet will do that for you, but some vets may require you to do so. Talk with your veterinarian about the next step once the microchip is implanted.

Collar and ID Tags Integrate with Microchips
Just because you have your pet microchipped doesn't mean it doesn't still need a collar and tags. Many communities require licensing of pets in the city limits, therefore, at a minimum, your pet needs a collar and license ID. Collars and identification tags are also important to have on your cat or dog in case a Good Samaritan who finds your lost pet can return it to you. A microchip, though, is permanent, and so should your dog or cat's collar and tags be removed either accidentally or on purpose, your lost pet can still return home.

Microchips Help Bring Those Happy Endings!
There are many stories of lost pets being reunited with their owners because of a microchip. Sometimes, it's years later, as in the case of Vanilla, a cat who was missing almost a decade (being cared for, however, and not just roaming the streets – see Vanilla's story at or of Cassie, the border collie mix lost from her family for four years (see In both cases, these pets had microchips. Holly, a tortiseshell kitty that walked nearly 200 miles trying to reach home, also had help because she had a microchip (see

Cats Need ID, Too
Many owners don't put collars and tags on their cats. Studies show that only two percent of lost kitties return home because they have no identification tags and are not microchipped. However, the return-to-owner rate climbs by 20% for those cats that are microchipped. The cats as well as the cocker spaniel that share my home are chipped.

Keep Your Contact Information Updated
One of the key factors for a pet owner who does microchip his/her animal is to keep the contact information updated. If you do microchip your pet and move or change phone numbers, please contact either the vet who did the procedure to find out how to update your contact information, or contact the manufacturer of the implant and update your contact information. It does no good to have your pet microchipped and then fail to keep your information current should your pet become lost.

So, help your lost pet get home more quickly with a microchip implant. Cost averages $50 for the one-time procedure. Talk with your vet and research the options. You can find more information about microchipping your pet at

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