--by Courtney Wennerstrom
May is Chip Your Pet Month
Did you know that an estimated 10 million animals go missing across the US each year? Most pet parents believe that their companion animals will never participate in these tragic statistics. In reality, however, seemingly innocuous things like moving, fireworks during 4th of July celebrations, road trips, busy delivery drivers who accidentally leave gates open, and small holes in fencing can cause even the most well-behaved pets to become separated from their families. In many cases, lost animals end up in local shelters, which are stressful (and often dangerous) places for pets–so you want to ensure that your dogs get home as quickly as humanly possible.
While collars and tags are an extremely important way to let good Samaritans know where your furry kids live, these can and do fall off. Microchips are a key backup to help your pets find their way back to you, where they belong.
Here at PAWS & CO, we know how much you LOVE your canine BFFs. So we wanted to give you the skinny on how microchips help protect your dogs while saving the lives of shelter animals every single day.
5 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT THE TINY BUT MIGHTY MICROCHIP
Microchips are simple radio transponders with a unique 9, 10, or 15 digit identification number that can be read by a microchip scanner. These numbers are tied to your contact information through online registration. Always remember to register your pets' microchips and above all–keep your registration updated–to ensure that your address, phone number, and email are current in the AAHA National database. Find out how to register your pet’s microchip number from Preventative Vet here.
Veterinarians agree that they microchips are extremely safe. About the same size as a grain of rice, microchips are inserted under the skin–between the shoulder blades–with a hypodermic needle. They do not hurt our dogs any more than a regular shot would. Reputable microchip manufacturers–including AVID ID, AKC Reunite, 24-Hour PetWatch Pet Protection Services, Home Again, and many others--have anti-migration technology to keep the microchip in place inside your dog’s body and are made out of biocompatible glass–both of which have been carefully designed to protect your pet. It is no wonder that these small devices have long been the industry standard for pet reunification!
In short, microchips are tiny but mighty tools that enable responsible pet parents to communicate with veterinarians, animal control officers, and shelter workers about where their lost pets live. Put another way–when properly registered–microchips provide your contact information to animal welfare professionals since our pets cannot speak for themselves, helping them get home faster.
If you are under the impression that microchips are GPS devices–you are in good company as many people have this misconception. But do not worry: they cannot be tracked, only read to find their identification number. To this end, they are NOT a means for the government or other organizations to spy on you or your pet. I promise!
According to American Humane, only 15 percent of dogs and 2 percent of cats who end up in animal shelters are successfully reunited with their families without a microchip. Think about that. This means that if your dog becomes lost and then loses their collar and/or tags, shelter workers will have an extremely difficult time finding you. And this is especially dangerous for dogs taken to high-intake shelters, where they could be at great risk for euthanasia, even after just a few short days!
When a microchipped pet enters a shelter–provided their registration is up-to-date (see fact 2)–the staff is much more likely to reunite you immediately, making more room in these overcrowded facilities for pets who are seeking their loving homes. Rapid reunification matters not just your dog...but for other dogs.
Tragically, as the ASPCA explains, nearly 1 million healthy, adoptable pets die each year across the country due lack of resources, funding, staffing, and inadequate space in animal shelters. 😢 Microchipping helps get loved pets back to their families ASAP, thereby significantly reducing euthanasia by clearing out kennels–which gives homeless animals more time to be adopted. It's a win-win!
If your dog is lost and ends up at an animal shelter, rescue, or veterinarian's office, employees will scan your dog and look for a microchip. Once they have the microchip number, they will use the National AAHA database–a lookup tool for pet professionals–to locate your contact information. While this database is not the place to keep your registration up-to-date, it is the only resource available to shelter and rescue workers trying to find you. This is why you must always update your address and phone number with your microchip company when you move or get a new phone number. If you do not know your pet’s microchip number or its manufacturer, you can take your dog to the vet to be scanned. Once you know the manufacturer, you can go directly to their website to update your pet's registration. Unfortunately, there are often yearly or lifetime fees involved, but protecting your pets is worth its weight in gold. See point 1 for a link for tips to keep your registration updated at all times.