Losing his or her pet is one of an owner’s biggest fears, and rightly so. It’s been estimated that as many as 10 million pets are lost, stolen or injured each year. Identification tags are the first line of defense against this loss. They should include your name and contact number, along with the number of a friend or relative who can be called should the person who finds your pet not be able to reach you.
Identification tags aren’t foolproof, though. Collars can become lost, or tags may scratch or rust beyond legibility. In fact, more than half of the lost or stolen pets who are eventually recovered by animal shelters or veterinarians turn up without any identification.
What can you do to increase your chances of recovering your pet quickly and safely? Microchipping is a solution that has risen in popularity over the past several years. It’s a simple, painless process by which a sterile microchip is injected under your pet’s skin, often between the shoulder blades. The microchip bears a unique code which can be read by a special scanner. Many shelters and veterinarians now routinely scan all recovered animals for just such a chip. If one is found, the code is called into an operator, who then screens a database to match the code with the name and address of the recovered pet’s owner.
Microchipping has several advantages in comparison to other means of identification. For starters, once the microchip is implanted, it is permanent. It can’t be lost or stolen, and it never needs to be replaced. Microchips can be implanted at any time during your pet’s adult life, and even puppies and kittens as young as five weeks old may be implanted. In addition, the procedure isn’t an expensive one. The cost, of course, varies from one veterinarian to another, with some charging as little as $25. Others may charge around $45, but some veterinarians will offer discounts if they perform the implantation at the same time as another operation or procedure, such as spaying or neutering your pet.
Keep in mind that there may also be a fee for registering your pet’s code number into the database. And while the implantation cost is a one-time fee, you may need to pay each time you register a new phone number, address or other piece of contact information with the database. Also, there may be an annual fee to maintain your pet’s enrollment in the database.
There is one drawback to microchipping your pet, and it is definitely something to consider. Even in the event that your lost pet is recovered, there is no 100 percent guarantee that his or her microchip will be readable. Until 2003, microchip scanners were universal, meaning that your pet’s chip could be read by any scanner in any shelter or veterinary clinic. But after 2003, different types of scanners began to be put into use, making it a bit of a guessing game as to whether the shelter or vet who recovers your pet will be able to read his microchip.
However, the Humane Society of the United States is among the organizations urging the pet industry to return to universal scanners, and many pet owners are now taking a chance on the technology. From their viewpoints, the possibility of getting their pets back safe and sound is worth it.
Jamie Rankin is a full-time, professional writer and co-founder of Creative Inklings LC, a full-service writing firm found online at http://www.creativeinklings.org Jamie is also the co-founder of a Pet PLR membership Web site.