While I was away and deliberately lost last week, it crossed my mind that I hadn’t ever talked about pet microchips. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about what the chips can do and how they can be used. I’ll spend some time today talking about statistics and the truth about the utility of microchipping pets.
The concept of microchipping is simple: each pet receives a non-removable identification tag with a unique number implanted under the skin. That unique ID number is kept in one of several lists maintained by the microchip manufacturers. If a pet is lost (or for any reason the ID is needed), a handheld scanner can be used to read the ID number in the chip.
Each little microchip is a small bit of circuitry enclosed in a glass capsule. The chips are actually passive RFID tags. The scanners send a radio signal to the chip, which uses the energy in that signal to send back the chip’s number. Without the scanner, the chip does not do anything on its own. It just sits there.
There are several companies out there that make microchips. While most are utilizing a universal format that allows all of the scanners to read all of the chips, not all do so. Incidentally, we use one of the universal chips and scanners. Veterinarians, rescue groups, animal shelters, etc. purchase chips from the manufacturer. The manufacturer keeps track of the chip ID numbers so that from the moment the chips leave the distributor, there is a paper trail for a chip.
Pet owners have the chip implanted with a simple injection under the skin. It’s a larger needle than for vaccines, but most pets tolerate it very well. Once the chip is implanted, the owner provides contact information. This information is registered in the manufacturer’s database. Once the information is registered in the database, the company will not delete it.
If the chip is scanned, the number will guide the return of the pet to the rightful owner. There are several ways to look up the number, but the owner’s privacy is respected throughout.
It’s that simple! Unfortunately, I hear a LOT of concern about chipping pets. In my usual blunt manner, I’d like to provide some solid information. The statistics were provided by the manufacturer that we use for microchips.
•One in 3 pets will get lost in its lifetime. About 90% of pets that are lost don’t ever make it home.
•Animal shelters euthanize at least 4 million pets a year.
•Microchips are NOT a GPS tracking system. The chips can not send a signal unless they receive a signal from the scanner.
•Microchips do NOT cause harm to the patient. They are enclosed in glass that does not cause inflammation or problems at the injection site.
There’s really no downside to chipping a pet. Even indoor pets can benefit from the protection a microchip provides. If your pet isn’t chipped, or is chipped and isn’t registered, please contact us to get that sorted out!
You can read about the HomeAgain microchip at their web page. This is the company we chose to work with. They’ve reunited over 1 million pets with their owners, which is no small feat.