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Dogs & Puppies : Safety Last Updated: Oct 25th, 2006 - 08:57:26

Microchipping: What is it and how can it ensure that your pet is always yours?
By Chester Duke
Jan 7, 2006, 06:47

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Each year, more than 10 million pets are lost.  It can easily happen, no matter how much we all try to prevent it.  When your pet is lost and if they do not have a collar or their collar gets lost, it can be very difficult for them to find their way home. According to the American Humane Association, only about 17% of lost dogs and 2% of lost cats ever find their owners.  Nearly 20 million pets are euthanized each year because their owners cannot be located. If your pet is microchipped, there is a much greater chance that they will return to you safely.  Microchips will last for your pet’s lifetime as there are no moving parts and nothing to replace.

A microchip is a small computer chip that has an identification number programmed into it.  It is small enough to fit into a hypodermic needle.  Once implanted, the I.D. number cannot be altered or removed.  Once the chip is implanted, a layer of connective tissue forms around the chip preventing it from moving about.

Some people are hesitant to microchip their pet because they are afraid it will hurt.  The procedure is simple, routine, and painless, and it doesn't require any anesthesia. Your pet simply gets an injection just under the loose skin between the shoulder blades; it's a lot like getting vaccinated. Most animals don't react at all. Long term studies have shown that the microchip is very safe for your pets.

The chip contains an identification code that is unique to your pet.  Most veterinarians and animal shelters have scanners that can read that identification code.  Most use universal scanners that will read all brands of microchips.

There are two major manufacturers of microchips.  One of the most popular is the AVID (American Veterinary Identification Devices) microchip.  When you get an AVID microchip implanted in your dog, you will register with PETrac.  Your veterinarian will have the application information to send in to PETrac.  If you do not receive this information, or if your information such as address, phone number, or veterinarian changes, you may call PETrac directly at (800) 336-2843 to make the appropriate changes.  Your dog will also receive a tag for his collar with his AVID microchip number prominently displayed.  When your lost pet is found, they will be scanned and the information will be called in to PETrac.  Their database will bring up your information and you will be notified immediately.

Another popular brand of microchip is the Schering-Plough HomeAgain microchip.  Once your pet is microchipped with the Schering-Plough HomeAgain microchip, you will register with the American Kennel Club (AKC) Companion Animal Recovery (CAR) program.  This program maintains a national database and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Just as with AVID’s PETrac system, when your lost pet is found, they will be scanned, the number will be called into the AKC-CAR (1-800-252-7894) and you will be notified immediately.  A microchip provides permanent identification unlike tags alone.  When you register, you provide information to the AKC-CAR - your contact information, your veterinarian‘s information and an alternate contact.  The program personnel will call the other numbers if you cannot be reached.  Remember to contact the AKC-CAR if you any of the above information changes.

The system works!  More than 1 ˝ million pets are enrolled in the AKC Companion Animal Recovery program and 97% have HomeAgain microchips.  126,034 lost pets have been reunited with their owners thanks to this program which has a 100% success rate.  Every found pet in its system has been identified.

The American Society for the prevention of cruelty to animals (ASPCA) also supports the use of microchip IDs for animal identification.  They feel that it is the most reliable system for the recovery of lost pets.

Ideally, leashes, fences, and doors would be enough to keep your pet safe at home, but in the real world, accidents happen, and your pet depends on you to protect him or her against the things that could go wrong. With a little effort now, you can take a big step toward ensuring that your pet will be with you in the future.

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