National Chip Your Pet Month was created to encourage and educate responsible pet owners in the importance of microchipping your loved one.
While no one likes to admit it, our pets can escape us from time to time. Slipping out the door, hopping the fence, breaking their lead, many things can happen that take our pets from our sight. You may think - "My dog wears a collar with a tag on it, I don't need to microchip it." While fantastic that your dog wears a tag, this is a great step, collars can slip off, get caught up on a fence and tear, or intentionally be removed by someone with nefarious intent. The best and easiest way to ensure your pet is brought back to you quickly and safely is to microchip.
Pet microchips are RFID transponders that when scanned read a unique identification number. When this number is searched in a database, pet information such as name, age, and breed, along with pet owner information, such as name, phone number and address can be found. It is important to note simple pet microchips are not tracking units. They do not send out a pet's location, or have private information stored on them.
When an animal is picked up as a stray, the very first thing an Animal Control Officer does is scan for a microchip. If one is found, this gives them all the information they need to contact the pet's owner and get them home safe and sound.
The majority of animals that hit the adoption floor at Macon County Animal Control are picked up as strays and have no microchip to contact an owner (if there is one). Animals sit for the required stray hold according to the county ordinance and if no owner comes forward, they are then processed for the adoption floor.
When a stray animal's owner comes forward to reclaim, it is required that the animal be microchipped before returning home. This guarantees that if the animal is picked up again, Animal Control Officers have a way to find the owner so the pet is not sitting for an unnecessary length of time away from it's family.
Registering Your Microchip
It is important to register your microchip and keep information up to date. Unregistered microchips can be tracked down to the facility that placed it, but it is a very long, round about way to try and find owner information. Registering your microchip takes 5 minutes and generally is in a prepaid envelope - you fill out a paper with your current contact info, seal it, and pop it in the mail. Easy-peasy.
It is not an extremely common occurrence at the shelter, but still happens more often than it should, that an animal is microchipped but unregistered. It can take days to track down information about the chip and get owner information - if any is even available. These are days the pet could be at home with loved ones instead of the shelter.
Keeping Your Microchip Updated
When you move to a new address, or get a new phone number, even go thru a name change, it is important to update your pet's microchip registration information. This isn't something people keep at the forefront of their mind, but so often an animal comes to the shelter and the phone number associated with the pet is no longer in service and there is no way to immediately contact the owner.
Is a Microchip Painful?
A microchip placement is comparable to a vaccine given to your pets. The needle is not much larger and the microchip placed under the skin is just about the size of a grain of rice. Some smaller pets feel a little prick on insertion, but no lasting pain is caused by them.
Is a Microchip Bad for their Health?
Simply, no. It is a tiny implant placed in the scruff of your pet's neck. It bonds with the subcutaneous tissues, keeping it in place. It cannot be "lost" within the internal organs of your pet's body. It does not require any "power source" or "battery charge" to work properly like often thought. While adverse reactions after implantation can occur, these are very, very rare.
While not too common, microchips can wander in the 24-48 hours before they bond with tissue. They can migrate over to the shoulder and sometimes even down the leg. This does not affect the chip, and workers know this can happen so when a chip is not immediately found between the shoulder blades, roaming areas are checked.
Another not too common occurrence is a chip malfunctioning. Nothing physically happens to the chip, the animal is completely unaware, no pain or irritation, the RFID is just unable to be read by a scanner. It is important to check your microchip on occasion (like during routine vet visits) and ensure yours is still functioning properly.
Where and How?
Call your vet and ask about setting up an appointment to get your pet microchipped. They will discuss with you the short process and cost of microchipping your pet. There are multiple different companies that produce animal microchips, all doing essentially the same thing. If you are curious about which is "best", ask your vet. It is part of their job to help you with decisions made about your pet's well-being.