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The difference between “lost” and “found” can be incredibly scary. Thanks to microchips for pets, it can also be incredibly simple. Even the most diligent pet owner can have an accident happen that results in a dog or cat getting lost without a collar and ID tag. Since pets are often found by a stranger or picked up by animal control, the single best thing you can do to help them get home to you is to make sure that you can be identified and contacted when they are found. This is why pet owners microchip dogs and cats.
We have many experiences in our animal hospital where pets are found by kind people who bring them to us to be checked for a microchip. We’ve witnessed the happy reunions. They work!
Microchipping dogs and cats is great and easy because it’s an electronic chip, kind of a tiny transponder, that bears a unique identification number. If your dog or cat is found, any vet or animal shelter will have a scanner to check to see if they have a microchip. If they do, the scanner will display the ID number of the chip. That number will be registered to you, the pet’s owner. Now, even a dog or cat without a collar can get home because you can be called to let you know your pet has been found.
Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice. They are implanted just under the skin with a large needle usually between the shoulder blades. This is just as quick as getting a vaccine and does not require any anesthesia. Subcutaneous tissue then holds the microchip in place, which is made to work for up to 25 years. Because it’s so small, pets won’t even feel that it’s there over the course of their lives.
After the microchip has been implanted, all you have to do is register your contact information with the manufacturer of the microchip. Just remember to keep your information up-to-date just like you would on a collar tag.
Anytime your pet is lost, regardless of whether they are microchipped or not, the first thing you should ALWAYS do is call your local animal control. Find out if your pet is there, and if not, leave a description and your contact information in case they end up there. There is no time to waste on this front because if a pet is picked up by animal control and there is no way (a collar tag or microchip) for an owner to be located, the pet is put on what is called “stray hold”. Each county has laws about how long this is, but basically there is a safety window, usually 72 hours, during which time a pet cannot be put to sleep or put up for adoption at the shelter. This is specifically to allow time for an owner to come and reclaim their pet.
Here in the Raleigh, NC area, we have an additional resource, Triangle Lost Pets. This is a great website on which to post information about your missing pet.
Did you know that there are certain scenarios when pets are more likely to run off and get lost?
Pets that aren’t spayed and neutered are significantly more likely to get lost, and the longer they go without being returned to their families, the more likely they are to be pregnant, injured, or to have contracted an illness, some of which can be life threatening.
Storms and holidays are also very common times for pets to become lost. Think thunder, severe storms winds, and fireworks, all of which are frightening to most pets. Scary situations like these almost always mean higher intake of pets found roaming the streets by animal control.
Microchipping dogs and cats is so quick and easy with the possibility of great benefit. Let us know if you’d like to schedule a quick appointment to get one for your four-legged family member!