It can happen so fast ... a front or back door left open, a hole dug under the fence, dashing off before the leash is attached. It's only a moment in time, a few minutes at best, and the pet we love so dearly becomes a lost pet. The Humane Society of America estimates that 1 in 3 pets become lost at some point during their life. 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen every year.
Luckily, many pets are returned because they are wearing collars which contain their owner's contact information on ID tags or a rabies tag with information connecting them with a veterinary clinic. However, pets can run off at a time when they are not wearing their collar. Collars often do not properly fit a pet, making it is easy for them to wiggle out of it or have that collar pulled off.
In addition to having a collar with proper ID tags, your pet should be microchipped. Dogs without a microchip are returned to their owners 22% of the time whereas dogs with a microchip are returned to owners 52% of the time. The numbers are even more impressive for cats. A cat without a microchip is returned to their owner only 1.8% of the time; a cat with a microchip finds his or her home 38.5% of the time. These numbers speak for themselves!
Microchips are small, electronic chips enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the size of a grain of rice. The microchip is injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle. No surgery or anesthesia is required. A microchip can easily be placed during a routine office visit. Many owners choose to have the microchip placed in combination with a planned anesthetic procedure such as a spay, neuter, or dental cleaning.
No battery is required for the microchip to work. Instead, the microchip is activated by a scanner. The scanner puts out radio waves which activate the chip, allowing the chip to reveal your pet's unique ID number. The chip transmits this ID number to the scanner which is then displayed on the screen along with a corresponding 1-800 number to the pet recovery service, and you will be contacted using the contact information on file with your chip registration. The microchips presently used only contain an ID number. Microchips are not a GPS device and cannot trace your pet if lost.
Placing the microchip is only the first step. You must register the microchip to give the best chance of getting your pet back. Microchipped pets that are not reunited with owners is due to incorrect or missing information in the registration database. Current data indicates that only 6 in 10 microchips are registered.
When registering your pet's microchip, you do not need to worry about privacy. The only information about you contained in the database is the information you choose to provide when you register the chip and is used by the registration company only to contact you in the event your pet is found and their microchip scanned. Protections are in place so that an owner's ID cannot be accessed or used by the public.
The basics of microchip maintenance are simple:
1. Make sure your pet's microchip is registered.
2. Scan your pet's microchip once a year during a vet visit to ensure the microchip is still functioning and can be detected.
3. Keep registration information up to date with your current phone number being most important.
Statistics show that many of us, at one time or another, will be in the situation where we have a pet that is lost. When that time comes, be as prepared as possible to recover your lost family member. Microchips can greatly increase the chance for a happy reunion.
Talk to your vet today about getting your dog or cat microchipped. If they are already microchipped, "Check The Chip" annually to ensure your pet's chip is functioning and contains up to date information. Let's bring our pets home safely!