A beloved pet makes a dash out an open door or gate and disappears from view leaving its frantic owners to conduct a neighborhood search, put up flyers, contact animal hospitals, shelters, local or social media. If the pet is wearing a collar with tags, collars can tear, be lost or purposely removed by people who find and want to keep the animal. To increase the odds of reuniting lost pets with their owners a high tech option is available in the form of a microchip.
Microchips are a lifelong permanent identification system with a unique ID code for dogs, cats, and other pets. This tiny rice grain-sized computer chip is injected between a pet's shoulder blades and no anesthesia is required. If a lost animal has been brought to an animal hospital or animal shelter or picked up by the Humane Society it will automatically be scanned for a microchip and the owner is contacted to facilitate a reunion with the pet.
Two major microchip registries are "Home Again" and the American Kennel Club's "Reunite" program. Reunite registers purebred and mixed breed dogs as well as cats and other pet mammals, is non-profit and accepts the Home Again microchip coding. Both registries have different registration application forms and charge different fees. The registration forms from both registries require: the microchip numerical code, owner's name, address, phone numbers, emergency contact numbers, type of animal and the pet's name. Both registries provide collar tags with a phone number for the registry (to be called when a pet is found) and send a confirmation to the owner when the pet is listed in the recovery registry's database. Please note that a separate one-time fee is charged for the implantation of the microchip at veterinary hospitals.
Microchipping is especially recommended for:
•Cats because most do not wear collars and indoor cats can be talented escape artists.
•Pets that travel to vacation destinations, cat or dog shows, nursing homes to perform therapy work, training classes, grooming salons and dog parks.
•Pets that are to be boarded at kennels and dogs that go to doggy day care.
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•Owners who are concerned about the possibility of being separated from their pets if a natural or man-made disaster occurs.
You may wonder about how effective microchips are for reuniting lost pets with their owners. According to the American Veterinary Association, a study of more than 7,700 stray animals at shelters revealed that dogs without microchips were reunited with their owners only 21.9 percent of the time, but microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2 percent of the time. Cats with no microchips were returned to their owners only 1.8 percent of the time, but cats with microchips were able to return home 38.5 percent of the time.
If a pet's owner moves, it is necessary for the owner to provide the microchip registry with updated contact information. When a pet is re-homed with a new owner all contact information must be updated as well. Owners can go online with the registry to update the changes of their contact information.
The Humane Society of Carroll County micro-chips all adoptable cats, dogs and bunnies to prepare them for their forever homes and also offers microchipping services to the public at a reduced rate (please call to make an appointment: 410-848-4810).
Protect your pet and increase the odds of recovering your furry friend with a microchip!
Iris Katz serves as a member of the board of directors and as an educational facilitator for the Humane Society of Carroll County. Her column appears on the third Sunday of the month.