A microchip is a permanent form of pet identification.
A microchip is a permanent form of pet identification. According to an American Veterinary Medical Association study, dogs are 2.5 times more likely and cats are a whopping 21.4 times more likely to be returned to their home from a shelter if they have an implanted, registered and updated microchip. These cats and dogs have found their way home despite years and incredible distances thanks to the information obtained by scanning their microchip. All major animal care and rescue organizations encourage having your pet micro chipped.
Remarkable stories are plentiful about heartwarming reunions between microchipped pets and their families. Here is an interesting and unusual account about the role they played in solving the murder of the owner of two dogs. A woman living in South Beach, Fla., was a "free spirit" who took in transients and gave them odd jobs. In July 2011, she disappeared from her home but left her two cats. Her two dogs were also missing.
The police were not convinced that something untoward had happened but friends and family knew she would not have left willingly without arranging care for her cats. They hired a private investigator who started combing animal shelters and spreading the word everywhere in a search for the dogs. They received a call that a scan of two dogs found roaming the streets in South Carolina showed that they belonged to the woman.
The police started an investigation based on this information. They tracked her credit card use and soon located a drifter in Washington who had been a guest at her home. He confessed that he had killed her and is now awaiting trial. A close friend was able to adopt the dogs and bring them back to their home area.
Another great story is about Sasha, a Rottweiler, stolen from a home in South Bend, Ind., five years ago. In August 2013, the owner received a call from the Phoenix, Arizona Humane Society.
She was told that a dog, recently relinquished by the "owner" had been identified by microchip scan as hers. With help from area animal rescuers using Facebook and 17 volunteers who pitched in to transport Sasha on an eight-day road trip of over 2,000 miles, across seven states, Sasha and her delighted owner were reunited. Unfortunately, there was no information about the "owner" who turned Sasha in. It is likely that they purchased the dog from the thief, not knowing that she was stolen.
Willow, a calico cat, disappeared from her home in Colorado and turned up five years later wandering the streets of Manhattan, N.Y. It will probably never be known, how she traveled this great distance but she is now home with her family, thanks to a microchip. She was rescued from the streets and turned in to Animal Care & Control where a scan enabled them to locate the owners. Even though they had relocated, they kept their microchip information updated.
There are several important things to know about microchipping. The chip is about the size of a grain of rice implanted by a veterinarian. It does not store any of your personal information, nor does it have any GPS type capability. When scanned it only reveals a unique number that is stored with a central registry. Think of it as your pet's social security number. In order for it to be useful, when you first acquire an already microchipped pet, the number must be registered to you and updated when your address or telephone number changes. Not all microchips and scanners are "universal." Because there is no national database in the United States, some owners choose to register their pets in multiple registries as an added safety net. Further particulars about this and FAQ'S about microchips are at the AMVA web page https://www.avma.org/Pages/home.aspx.
Anne Divine is a long time member of LAWS and has volunteered at Animal Control for 18 years. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.