Tagging pets with a microchip is becoming an increasingly popular practice, and Woodland Animal Hospital recommends that every animal owner bring in their pet for this service. Implanting a tracking chip can help owners keep better track of their pets, as well as increase the chances of having their pet returned if it ever runs away or is somehow separated from its owner.
While most pet owners already outfit their pets with collars that hold vaccination tags and information about the owner, these collars can come off over time or if the pet gets caught in something. To better protect pets, the Humane Society explains on its website that many owners turn to technology in the form of a microchip implanted in the pet.
The Humane Society cautions that microchips should not replace collars, since identification tags are a pet’s first ticket home. Rather, microchips can provide an extra level of protection in case the animal loses its collar and tags.
Microchips are miniature responders that are approximately the size of a grain of rice. They use radio frequency waves to transmit information about a pet. These chips are implanted under the skin, typically right between the shoulder blades. Each chip contains a registration number and the phone number of the registry for that specific brand of chip.
Veterinarians or humane shelters can use a handheld scanner to read the radio frequency and display the information. The official then contacts the registry to retrieve the owner’s name and phone number.
A representative from Mallard’s Landing Animal Hospital, a full-service animal clinic located in Locust Grove, Georgia, emphasizes that it is very important to microchip your pet, adding, “You invest so much into your animal, not just monetarily, but emotionally. They’re an important part of our lives because we make them that.”
“Despite how hard we try to keep track of our pets, they are animals and sometimes they can wander off or run off without our supervision,” the representative continues. “This is where having a microchip implanted inside of the animal is an essential aspect of any pet owner’s life.”
Many veterinarians and animal shelters can microchip a pet using a large bore needle. The process doesn’t require anesthesia and feels akin to getting a shot. Once the microchip is implanted, the owner needs to register their pet with the microchip company. This can be done either online or by completing the paperwork that comes with the chip and sending it to the registry.
Some companies charge a registration fee, while others charge an annual fee. The owner will also receive a tag for their pet’s collar that includes the chip number and registry phone number.
The Humane Society notes that there are different types of chips and different registries, which used to cause problems when animal shelters and veterinarians scanned the chips. While competing companies once used different frequencies, requiring several different scanners to read them, many companies now produce universal scanners and provide them to animal shelters and animal control agencies at little to no cost.
Different chip manufacturers also used to maintain separate databases for their customers. Now, some chip companies register the pets with any brand of chip. The American Microchip Advisory Council is also working to develop a network of the registry databases. This will streamline the return of lost pets to their families.
Microchips can serve several important functions, according to Animal Planet’s article advocating the practice. Not only can they help return lost pets to their owners, implanting a microchip can also help avoid mistaken euthanasia if a lost animal ends up in a shelter. If shelter employees are unable to identify the animal, there is a chance that it could be put down.
The devices can also help in relocation situations, provide back-up for collars, and prove ownership should an animal be lost or stolen. If the animal is microchipped, it can’t be confused with another animal at the shelter and can validate your claim of ownership.
“A lot of pet owners get the chip for peace of mind, while others get it because that particular animal is adept at getting loose,” notes a representative for Woodland Animal Hospital. “It is just an extra precautionary measure that can be taken by a pet owner to keep their animal safe.”
Microchips are typically used on cats and dogs and typically cost less than $50 to implant. It is important to remember that microchips should not be used to replace a pet’s collar and tags. If you move, you should contact the registration company to update your information. If you adopt a pet that has already been microchipped, then you should contact the corresponding company to update the contact information.
The Humane Society recommends that every pet owner microchip their pets, and the team at Mallard’s Landing wholeheartedly agrees. As a representative explains, “The peace of mind that a chip provides is priceless. You know that no matter what happens, you have an eye on your pet.”
For added peace of mind, Woodland Animal Hospital advises all pet owners to visit their local shelter or veterinary clinic to have a microchip implanted in their furry friend.
Melissa Stusinski contributed to this article.