Read the Success Story! - November 2008, George the cat, missing for 13 years was returned to his home.
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A microchip can save your pet's life, as it did with George. When George arrived at the county animal shelter, he was elderly and very ill. If he hadn't had the microchip implant, he would have been humanely euthanized.
A few facts...
Yes, it is a computer chip. It is similar to the chips used in transportation payments (Washington DC SmarTrip), product tracking (Purdue Pharma - OxyContin shipments) and museums (Exploratorium, San Francisco - eXspot). The chips used for animal implants are passive. They do not contain a battery and therefore require a scanner to activate the chip.
No, you cannot track your pet if it has a microchip, but an animal control agency, shelter or Humane Society can scan the pet and identify that it belongs to people who will be looking for it. Some chip makers have online services available to shelters and veterinarians. When your pet is scanned to identify the chip number, they can use the online registry to identify the registered owner of the pet. In other cases, the shelter who is holding your pet will contact the microchip manufacturer, who will contact the veterinarian or clinic who injected the chip.
Among the many astounding things we learned after we were reunited with George is that although most veterinarians do sell microchip implants, few will scan a new pet patient being presented for treatment. Of course they have what they believe are business considerations that support this choice, however our conclusion after speaking to a number of them is it's just not something they've ever developed a plan to address within their business practices. We feel this seems negligent and are working on a couple of plans to hopefully improve the follow through on the part of veterinarians and their staff. You should ask your veterinarian if they scan all new pets that are presented. This is a huge missing-link in the effectiveness of microchips for identity purposes. In George's case, he was treated by 4 separate veterinarians during the years he was missing and not one of them scanned him. In his case, the woman presenting him was known locally by the animal care community as a self-proclaimed rescuer (she does not work for and is not affiliated with a rescue group). It should have been obvious that he probably did belong to someone else.
Most, although not all, animal shelters and rescue groups do scan new animals for chips. If you adopt an animal from either you should request the microchip information and inquire whether they have registered the animal to you with an appropriate service. In some cases, this is included with the adoption fees. In others you will need to pay a small fee to have this done. You will possibly be given the paperwork required to do it yourself.
If you have been given a pet that has a microchip, you should immediately take it to a veterinarian for a checkup, and ask them to scan and give you the chip information. They may be able to identify the maker, but at least identify whether the pet has a chip. If the vet cannot identify the chip maker/number, contact a local animal shelter to see if they can scan the animal for you to get the information.
Once you have your pet registered, you will need to be sure and keep the record updated. If you move or change your phone number, you will need to contact the registry and update the record. You may need to pay a small fee. If your alternate contact information changes, be sure to update that as well.
It is heartbreaking to lose your beloved pet. Many families with pets discover one day that their pet is missing. The process of locating a lost pet is very time consuming and sad. Only around 10% of pets which are lost are ever reunited with their families. Pets can travel great distances from home when they are lost, and often their families don't think to look in outlying area shelters when searching for their pet. Often, people work during the days and are unable to visit shelters during their open hours. It takes a great deal of time to adequately determine whether or not your pet is in the hands of a shelter or good samaritan. With a microchip implant, your pet's chances of survival and reunion with you is substantially increased. If you find a tame animal, be sure to take him/her to a veterinarian or shelter to be scanned. You could save the family from much heartache if the animal has a microchip implant.
Many years ago, I had all my pets microchipped. It was a brand new process my veterinarian told me about. She said it was better than a tattoo, because it could not be altered or removed, and also better than a collar because it won't come off your pet for any reason.
While in theory microchipping is an accurate and desirable method of safeguarding your pet when you aren't able to watch, not everyone is cooperating. Some veterinarians and shelters do not scan all pets. Some of the general population doesn't even know there is such a thing as microchipping or if they know about the process, they don't understand how it works.
Until Microchipping has become the standard method of identifying pets, a collar and tag is still a valuable way of retrieving your lost pet.
Update your pet's microchip registration information Contact the appropriate microchip maker below.
ResQ Pet Tracking System Opens in new window/tab (http://resq.petparents.com/)