Microchipping Your Pet

June 10, 2012

ImageIf you are like me, your pet is considered a member of the family. Therefore, losing your pet could be devastating to you and possibly even fatal for your pet.

Animal shelters end up with millions of animals every year with only 15-20% of dogs and less than 2% of cats finding their way back to their owners. Those numbers get even worse after big storms, fireworks or a disaster like a hurricane. Even the most diligent pet owner is at risk for their pet to slip out of its collar or harness, escape through the front door during a Fourth of July party, slip through a non-screened window or jump out of a car window during a hurricane evacuation.

Although collars and tags are important and certainly beneficial when worn by the pet, they’re at risk for breaking, fading, becoming scratched, or even falling off the animal. Should this occur, there is no way to determine to whom the animal belongs—unless the pet is microchipped. Microchipping is a permanent means of identification for your pet. Unlike collars and tags which, may be broken or unreadable, microchips are placed under the skin of the pet, providing a permanent means of identification. Microchipping allows the best possible chance of a bringing a lost or stolen pet back to their family.

To paraphrase a popular advertising campaign:

Losing a pet = heartbreaking
Microchipping your pet = $50
Peace of mind = priceless

Implanting a microchip is safe and easy and can be performed during a routine visit to the veterinarian. It is commonly performed during routine surgeries like spaying or neutering. A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass case that is about the size of a grain of rice. It is injected under the skin using a needle. If your pet is lost, a scanner activates the chip and the identification number of the chip is read by the scanner. If a lost animal is brought to a veterinary hospital or shelter, one of the first things they do is a scan for a microchip. In fact, Charleston was one of the first municipalities to pass a law requiring all shelters to scan for microchips.

Studies have shown that approximately 75% of lost dogs that had been microchipped were returned to their owners because of the pets’ microchip, whereas only about 22% of dogs are returned to their owners when they do not have a microchip. The story is really sad for cats, in that less than 2% of non-microchipped cats are returned to their families. Cats with microchips find their owners nearly 40% of the time. There have also been reports of dogs being reunited with their family years after being lost because the microchip was detected by a shelter or veterinary hospital. Microchips have also been responsible for reuniting pets lost as far as 1,000 miles away from their homes.

All you need to do is tell your veterinarian that you want your pet microchipped. Then be sure that the chip is registered in a national database. Often your veterinarian does this for you, but you need to be sure to update information as it changes by logging onto the microchip’s web site. Finally, make sure your pet maintains a healthy weight because it is harder to pick up microchips in obese animals.

When dogs get anxious from the sound of fireworks, they become irrational and try to run away. The same thing happens during a frantic hurricane evacuation. Don’t let your pet be on the wrong side of the statistics I mentioned in this article. Get your pet microchipped before the fireworks. That way you’ll be prepared for all sorts of unpredictable events as well as a hurricane evacuation if it should happen this fall.


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