Recent Disasters Underscore Value Of Microchipping Pets

Recent disasters highlight value of microchipping.

Cris Kelly

Public awareness of the importance of microchipping is on the rise. To underscore the importance of the microchipping procedure, many rescue organizations and veterinary clinics around the country offer free and discounted microchipping services. vet-breaking-newsRecent Disasters Underscore Value of Microchipping Pets By Lori Luechtefeld For Veterinary Practice News

In the wake of the Oklahoma City tornadoes in May, the value of pet microchipping was a common theme in news reports regarding lost and reunited pets. As the pet rescue and veterinary communities turned to the plight of affected animals, a centralized website, www.OKCLostPets.com, was set up to help reunite missing pets and owners.

In the following weeks, hundreds of successful reunions were reported on the site. Kimberly Weiss, DVM, a veterinarian for the McLean County Animal Response Team, told the New York Daily News that many pets that were microchipped or wearing ID collars were quickly reunited with owners.

However, this wasn’t the case for all lost pets on www.OKCLostPets.com. Owners in multiple lost-pet reports regretfully noted that their pets were not microchipped.

That said, public awareness of the importance of microchipping is on the rise, as news outlets increasingly tout microchips as the heroes in pet-owner reunion stories. In March, NBC reported that a 5-year-old German shepherd mix, Foxy, was reunited with its Southern California family after being lost nearly two years. The reunion was made possible by Foxy’s microchip.

Only a few months later, in June, another Southern California family was reunited with its pet Pomeranian after two and a half years, again thanks to the pet’s microchip, reported the San Diego County News Center.

To underscore the importance of the microchipping procedure, many rescue organizations and veterinary clinics around the country offered free and discounted microchipping services in conjunction with June as National Microchipping Month.

Going a step further, rescue organizations in Los Angeles partnered with Found Animals Foundation and declared June 21 to be Microchip Day. Throughout the month, partnering Los Angeles-area pet organizations offered microchipping at a discounted rate of $10 per pet. Pet owners also received free lifetime registration in the Found.org microchip registry.

Indeed, Found Animals Foundation and other organizations took National Microchipping Month as an opportunity to stress the importance of registering a pet’s chip and keeping contact information current.
 
"Remember, if a microchip is not registered, the pet is not protected,” said Christopher Pappas, DVM, director of companion animal technical services for HomeAgain. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, less than 2 percent of cats and only 15 to 20 percent of dogs are returned to their owners after entering a shelter. Most returned animals are identified by tags, tattoos or microchips.

In addition to operating its own national pet recovery database, HomeAgain is a participant in the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup program. This tool, provided by the American Animal Hospital Association, is an Internet-based application that enables veterinarians, humane organizations, pet owners and others to search various pet recovery registries and identify the registries on which a particular microchip is registered.

"This online resource makes it easy for animal care professionals and workers to determine which pet recovery registry should be contacted based on the scanned microchip,” Dr. Pappas said.

"If the microchip has not been registered with a pet recovery service, the microchip’s manufacturer or distributor will be listed.”

Beyond its support of the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup tool, HomeAgain encourages veterinarians to incorporate microchip registration and updates into their clinic protocols.

"Some pet owners may neglect to register their pet’s microchip if they are not prompted to do so when the microchip is implanted,” Pappas said. "Veterinary clinics can help clients by making registration part of the microchipping procedure. Collect this information and process the registration for clients.”

HomeAgain also suggests that veterinarians scan every pet for a microchip during wellness exams. This provides an opportunity to recommend microchipping if one is not detected, to confirm that a microchipped pet has been registered in a database, and to offer to update a client’s contact information if needed.

In addition to updating owner contact information, ensuring an alternate contact is on file is also important, noted Dan Knox, DVM, who handles companion animal operations at Avid Identification Systems in Norco, Calif.

"The alternate contact should be someone who would always know how to reach the owner in the event of an emergency,” he said. "The alternate contact should be someone not living in the same household as the pet owner.”

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