This week we shared a story about Oliver and Opal. If it weren’t for the fact that they were microchipped, the terrible person who took them from a rescue just to dump them in a shelter would have gotten away with it. Thankfully, the shelter scanned them and were able to take action to ensure they could have a happy ending!
To follow up on their story, we wanted to discuss microchipping. In some cities, microchipping is either mandatory or strongly encouraged. In rural areas, it is not as common, but the benefits are the same. Think about the RFID ear-tages that farmers use on their livestock to ensure their safe return if they ever get loose. Microchipping your pets is just as important!
A microchip is an electronic device that contains information connected to a database that helps to identify your pet if it lost or stolen. Unlike collars, which can be lost, removed, or worn down with age, a microchip is an identification tool that lasts the life of your pet and gives you the unquestionable ability to prove your pet is yours if you need to. All pets can be microchipped, including cats, dogs, and horses. People also regularly register their birds, and it is possible to microchip animals as small as fish or as large as whales.
Microchipping is done most commonly at your veterinarian’s office, although some shelters and rescues are able to do it as well. When your pet is chipped you must complete an enrollment form. You will receive a registration certificate which serves as your ownership document, similar to an automobile title. This document must accompany the pet if it transfers ownership. You also must keep your contact information up-to-date if you move.
It is not difficult or expensive to get your pet microchipped. The chip itself is about the size of a grain of rice and is inserted under the skin of your pet (on the side of the neck or between the shoulderblades). It usually costs between $25-50, is not invasive, and requires no anesthesia. Your pet will experience no lasting pain or irritation, and while you will be able to feel a small bump where it is located, they will not notice.
The chip can then be scanned with a hand-held device (many vets run this scan at each annual exam to ensure it is still working). Pets who are found (or turned over to a shelter or rescue) are routinely scanned on intake to ensure they do not have a chip that is registered. If a stray is chipped, their owners are immediately notified. Registrations usually not only have the owner’s information, but also an emergency contact (sometimes the vet). This ensures that there is a network available to help work at getting the pet back to the rightful owners.
For such a low cost and small bother, it is more than worth it to chip your pet and live with the peace of mind that they can and will be returned to you if you ever get separated!