May is “Chip Your Pet” month – and Tom Dock, Noah’s Animal Hospital, is here to tell us more about microchips– an invaluable way to ensure that your pet has the best chance to get home to you if they are ever lost or stolen. 1 in 3 dogs are lost each year and many never make it back home due to lack of identification.
- The American Humane Association estimates over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. One in three pets will become lost at some point during their life.
- Microchips are a unique means of identification for pets. The rice-sized radio identification device provides a permanent and distinctive form of identification for dogs, cats and many other animals.
- According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “A study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time.”
- In the United Kingdom, where microchipping has been mandatory for the last 5 years, the return rates are significantly higher.
- Unlike collars and tags that can be easily removed, microchips are implanted under the skin of the pet and can’t be lost.
- Microchips have aided in the return of pets to their original owners many years after being lost. In some cases, the pets were found hundreds or even more than 1,000 miles away from home!
- More than 58% of pets with microchips are not registered properly in an appropriate database. In many cases, owners might fail to update the database after a move, the adopting agency might fail to incorporate the new owner’s information or information is entered incorrectly.
- Other forms of id = tags/collars, tattoos, brands, GPS tracking devices. All of these have significantly greater potential issues than microchips.
- Potential side effects/adverse reactions: No significant issues, extremely rare and unsubstantiated reports of cancer development.
- No identification system is 100% fool proof, but when microchips are implanted correctly, registered correctly and the database is kept up to date, they significantly increase the odds of getting your pet home to you!
- If you find a pet who you think is lost, most veterinary offices and animal shelters will allow you to bring the pet in and “scan” the pet for a microchip. This quick process can help reunite pets with their families.
- The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has a universal look up tool to help aid in this endeavor. Microchip numbers can be loaded into the website and the veterinarian or shelter can then find the right database where the pet SHOULD be located. https://petmicrochiplookup.org/ . Another helpful site is http://petchipregistry-us.info.
- Another great step locally is to post the found pet on IndyLostPets.com. This dedicated site and Facebook page has been a great resource for reuniting families as well.