Contributed by Katrina Cuming, LVT

Many pet owners have gone through the stress and pain of having a pet go missing. There is nothing worse than not knowing if you will ever see your little fur baby again. Microchips are a form of permanent identification that provides owners with some piece of mind. These microchips are small – the size of a grain of rice- and can never be removed.

By a simple subcutaneous implantation of the microchip into the skin between your pets’ shoulder blades, you are then secured to your pet via an indestructible, non-corruptible and unique method of pet ownership and re-location. According to the Home Again Microchip database, 1 in 3 household pets in the US will get lost, and 90% of un-identified pets never make it home. Currently, only 3-4% dogs, and less that 1% of cats, that are found, or reported and picked up, have microchips and are able to be traced back to their families. A simple and cost-effective solution on a pet owner’s part could drastically increase these homeless stats for the better, and decrease the amount of lost pets that end up in our rescues and shelters.

Two of the most common microchip companies in the United States are 24 Hour PetWatch, and Home Again. Both of these companies also expand their services for clients and pets registered with them into pet insurance, travel assistance, and access to Pet Poison Control hotlines. Microchips in many cases are required for travel in and out of the country, and they a very highly recommended for those that travel a lot with their human family members. Home Again also offers microchip activated feeders and dog/cat doors, which are fantastic for multi-family, indoor and outdoor fur babies. A pet with either of these companies does not need to be registered with every microchip company. When a pet is scanned and found to have a microchip, the number is specific to the microchip manufacturer. Your information is kept private by the company, because your pet is identified and registered by a unique ID number that is attached to your contact information in a secure database, and you are contacted by the microchip company when your pet is found.

Microchips are RFIDs, they are not GPS chips, so they emit their unique ID when scanned, and do not continuously emit a tracking signal. Thanks to advancements of shelter and hospital procedures, scanning for a microchip is the first step done when a lost/found pet is brought to the practice. The microchip is a permanent implant and does not need to be repeated, and is an easy 5-10 minute out-patient procedure performed by your veterinarian. Most fees include implant charges, and the first year of membership with the microchip company and lifelong registration for the life of the pet. It is still always recommended that your pet have a tag and harness or collar version of identification at all times, even when left at home, since this will always be the most traditional and visible version of pet ownership and identification.

The simple microchip can mean the difference between a pet making it home or ending up in a shelter which may mean life or death for our family pets that wander or escape from our homes. The small cost of a microchip ensures the ability that diligent animal servants in our communities can return our dogs and cats home. When a pet is brought it is such a relief when we discover that a pet is microchipped. Here at our practice we have scanned pets that were from as far away as San Francisco, Arizona and Reno. Please give thought to microchipping all of your pets, and don’t hesitate to contact the Elko Veterinary Clinic for more information, or the websites of 24 Hour PetWatch or Home Again for more details. The future of your pet’s return could rely on your simple decision!