Driving to work, in the pouring rain, a Vet Tech spotted a tiny Yorkie shivering, wet, and obviously alone. Everything about the scene pointed to a dog in trouble. Pulling to the curb, and opening the door in an attempt to attract the dog, she was surprised at how quickly the little guy hopped in. He wasn’t wearing a collar, and had no identifying tags. She was hoping he had been microchipped. She took him to her Veterinary Hospital to scan for a chip, and was excited to find one. Now, she’d only need to check the registry, and this little guy would be safely home with his family…a family that must have been beyond distraught.
In a perfect world, the microchip would have been the key to a “happily ever after.” Sadly, as is often the case, the microchip had never been registered by the owner. Microchips are implanted by a variety of sources, shelters, breeders, Veterinarians at an owner’s request. Registration, however, is the responsibility of one individual, the owner. Tracing an unregistered microchip to an owner is virtually impossible. A recent study of lost pets, turned over to animal shelters, found that 52.2% of dogs equipped with registered microchips were reunited with their owners, vs. 21.9% of non-microchipped dogs. For cats, the statistics are even more dramatic, 38.5% of microchipped cats are reunited vs 1.8% of non-microchipped.
Shockingly, 6 out of 10 owners never register their microchips! Why? We don’t know. When a patient is microchipped here, we review the registration process with the owner, stressing the importance of completing registration as soon as they get home. We also stress the significance of updating that information any time there is a change of address, phone number, or ownership. Phone numbers are particularly important since we’ve become a cellphone based society, and often, those cellphones are linked to employers. If your number changes, update the registry!
A microchip check is strongly recommended as part of an annual exam, to confirm that the chip is still operational. Like any piece of technology, these microchips can, and sometimes do malfunction.
Animals are unpredictable, and despite our best efforts, sometimes they become separated from their home. Microchipping dramatically increases the odds of a successful homecoming, if you follow 3 simple steps:
– Register the microchip immediately
– Keep your registry information current at all times
– Annually test the microchip to confirm it’s fully operational
While we also strongly recommend a collar with identifying tags, it’s easy for those collars and tags to be removed. A microchip is a layer of security that stays in place.
As for the little Yorkie, though frustrated over the microchip, the Tech turned to her community in the hopes of someone in town recognizing him. That evening, a very distraught family was happily reunited with their much loved little guy, and a valuable lesson was learned while tragedy was averted. As always, please talk with your Veterinarian about microchipping, and any other concerns you may have regarding your pet’s health and safety.