A new client called today to make an appointment for her who she had just claimed from our local animal shelter. He was identified as her dog by the microchip that was implanted under his skin when she adopted him as a puppy. While this is a post about the merits of getting your pets chipped, the amazing twist to this story is that this dog had been lost after escaping out of a backyard gate that was accidentally left open, 3 years ago! That’s right, you read it correctly; this dog was missing for 3 years, leaving this owner both elated, but absolutely floored when she received the call from the shelter that they had her dog.
Incredibly enough, the dog seemed well adjusted, well fed (even a bit on the chubby side), with the only problem being that he was infested with fleas. We gave him his immunizations, updated his heartworm screening and stool analysis – which were, incredibly, negative – and he went home, reunited with his owner after nearly 3 years of separation.
Amazing as this story is, this post is to remind everyone of what made this reunion possible: the microchip. For those who are unfamiliar with the microchipping of pets, it is the implantation of a tiny microchip that contains the information of the pet owner, so that in the case of a pet being lost or stolen, when found, the pet’s owner can be located. The chips are implanted by injection with only a pinch felt over the back, between the shoulder blades.
The microchips are made by several different manufacturers, each readable by a scanner. When a lost pet is found and brought into a shelter or veterinary clinic, the first thing that is done is to scan the shoulder bladder area for the presence of a chip. When the pet is lost, most microchip manufacturers will post blue alerts on the behalf of the pet owner reporting the lost pet and its description to police departments, shelters, and veterinary hospitals within a certain mile radius (typically 5-10 miles) of where the pet was lost.
In my experience, seeing how often lost pets and owners are reunited because of these microchips, I would advise every pet owner to have every pet microchipped. The company that my clinic uses claims that their chips lead to the recovery of a lost pet once every 6 seconds in the U.S., and they are just one of several microchip manufacturers. The cost to do so is very reasonable, as is the nominal fee to keep them active. The cost of not doing so can be tragic.
Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital and CEO/Chief Editor of the veterinary information and blog online community, Web-DVM.