Microchip Dilemma

May 8, 2009

in Cats

According to the American Humane Association, only about 17% of lost dogs and 2% of lost cats actually find their owners after being lost. In fact, more than 20 million pets are euthanized year after year because animal rescue units cannot find the original owners. But you need not fear because there is now an effective way of tracking down lost pets.

The option of microchipping has been considered the most effective way of tracking down lost pets. The procedure is done by most veterinarians today with a hypodermic needle. This hypodermic needle contains a small microchip that contains your pet’s permanent identification number. This identification number is entered into a data bank – national or local depending on the brand – and lists the pet’s name, owner’s name, address, and phone number.

A veterinarian as well as most animal shelters can do the procedure. Animal shelters provide the service for much less than a vet. It can be done in about thirty seconds and does not hurt pets. A microchip ID is a very, very small chip. In fact, it’s just about the size of a grain of rice.

There are three companies that dominate the US market for pet microchips- AVID, HomeAgain and 24PetWatch The microchip manufacturer keep the chip numbers that you have purchased and all the necessary information in their databases to be able to traced you in the event that your pet gets lost.

A handheld electronic scanner can scan the microchip to retrieve the information. Small handheld scanners are held close to the implant site while scanning and they have a reading range of about 3 inches. Larger, more powerful scanners can be used for various commercial and research applications and they read ranges vary from 6 to 20 inches depending upon specifications.

If a pet is found by local authorities or taken to a shelter, it is scanned during intake to see if a chip exists. If a microchip is detected, authorities call the recovery service and provide them the ID number, the pet’s description, and the location of the animal. The recovery service will be the one to notify the owner that the pet has been found, and where to go to recover the animal.

For pets traveling to all countries with the exception of China, you should use ISO 15 digit microchip that meets ISO standards 11784/11785. This is because the immigration officers use the microchips to compare the pet they are scanning to the presented veterinary documents.

There are still some drawbacks despite the fact that microchips to track your pet are completely safe. Some owners are against microchips because there was an issue reported that these microchips cause Fibro Sarcomas in the animals that have been implanted with these devices.

However, a lot of pet owners are not bothered by this issue because of the advantages that microchipping offers. Injecting a microchip is just like any other injection or vaccination. Anesthesia is not even required or recommended. The AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association, 2007) goes on to state that “The chip is made out of an inert, biocompatible substance, which means it won’t cause an allergic reaction in your furry friend, and it won’t degenerate over time”. When properly implanted, a small layer of connective tissue forms around the microchip thus actually preventing movement or migration of the chip.

From the moment you adopted your pet, your pet’s health and safety is in your hands. Whether to have our pets microchipped or not, the decision is yours.

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