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Did you know that one in three pets will go missing in its lifetime? Since the 1990s all my dogs have been microchipped as a means of permanent identification to ensure they with be reunited with their owners. Every puppy I’ve ever placed in a home has gone to that home with an AKCReunite microchip and enrollment in its pet recovery service. I always use AKCReunite as my pet recovery service of choice, because they are the largest nonprofit service, and the only one that only charges a one-time fee for enrollment. Other for-profit services charge their customers a yearly fee to keep their information current in its database. Not the best business decision to keep dogs safe in my opinion.
Here are AKCReunite’s Top Five reasons to microchip:
1. Collars break and pet ID tags can fall off; some pets don’t even wear collars.
2. Just because your pet lives inside, there is no guarantee of its safety. Linda Lord, DVM, of Ohio State University, reports: According to her 2009 study, pets with microchips are up to 20 times more likely to be returned to their owners; and 40 percent of lost cats in one community were indoor-only cats and only 19 percent of cats reported lost had any sort of identification.
3. We don’t like to think about it, but disasters can happen displacing pets from their homes and owners.
4. Microchips are permanent identification that can help prove ownership if a pet is stolen.
5. Microchips are required when traveling internationally.
Here’s how microchips work.
Step 1: The microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, is placed just under the skin between the shoulder blades with a needle, similar to getting a vaccination shot. It’s quick, relatively painless for the dog, and lasts a lifetime.
Step 2: The veterinarian who has just implanted the chip then takes a microchip scanner and waves it over the dog near the newly implanted microchip. The scanner contains a radio frequency that activates the microchip and its number is then displayed on the scanner. This step is done at the vet’s office or microchip clinic to verify the microchip number and the pet recovery enrollment form number matches.
Step 3: Finally, and most importantly, the owner of a just-microchipped dog fills in the enrollment form (on paper or online) to register the owner’s current contact information such as cellphone number, back-up numbers and contacts, and current address. Then, if your dog goes missing and the animal control officer or disaster relief worker scans your dog and finds the microchip number, they will call the toll-free phone number of the chip manufacturer to report the microchip number of the dog just found and the manufacturer/pet recovery service will contact the owner to report the location of their dog.
Check The Chip Day Launched
The American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) joined together in 2013 to create “Check the Chip Day” to remind pet owners to have their pets microchipped and to keep contact information up-to-date with your microchip manufacturer and pet recovery service.
AVMA reminds pet owners on Check the Chip Day to:
1. Make an appointment with your veterinarian for microchipping if your pet isn’t already microchipped, followed by making sure that your pet’s chip is immediately enrolled.
2. There are many databases that allow you to register your pet’s microchip, but the one that really counts — the one that animal shelters and veterinarians will search — is the database maintained by the manufacturer of your pet’s microchip. AAHA’s Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool (petmicrochiplookup.org) is linked to the registries of the majority of microchip manufacturers and allows a quick database search of any microchip made by these manufacturers.
In addition, a number of public microchip registries, including AKCReunite, have also been linked to the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool to make it easier to find a microchip’s registration.
So take the time this coming Monday — August 15 — to Check the Chip, either get a microchip or update your contact information with your manufacturer and pet recovery service. Then, if your pet ever goes missing you’ll have a way of bringing him home.
Lisa Peterson — lifelong equestrian, dog show judge and award-winning podcaster, communications professional and journalist — writes about horses, hounds and history at lisaunleashed.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.