Millions of dogs and cats become lost each year.
Tragically, few are reunited with their owners. Many lost pets end up in shelters where they are adopted out to new homes or even euthanized. It is important that your pet has identification at all times. Collars and tags are essential, but they can fall off or become damaged. Technology has made it possible to equip your pet with a microchip for permanent identification.
How it Works
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It consists of a tiny computer chip housed in a type of glass made to be compatible with living tissue. The microchip is implanted between the dog's shoulder blades under the skin with a needle and special syringe.
The process is similar to getting a shot. Little to no pain is experienced - most dogs do not seem to even feel it being implanted. Once in place, the microchip can be detected immediately with a handheld device that uses radio waves to read the chip.
This device scans the microchip, and then displays a unique alphanumeric code. Once the microchip is placed, the dog must be registered with the microchip company, usually for a one-time fee. Then, the dog can be traced back to the owner if found.
Things You Should Know
Microchips are designed to last for the life of your pet. They do not need to be charged or replaced.
Some microchips have been known to migrate from the area between the shoulder blades, but the instructions for scanning emphasize the need to scan the pet’s entire body.
A microchipped pet can be easily identified if found by a shelter or veterinary office in possession of a scanner. However, some shelters and veterinary offices do not have scanners.
Depending on the brand of microchip and the year it was implanted, even so-called universal scanners may not be able to detect the microchip.
Microchip manufacturers, veterinarians and animal shelters have been working on solutions to the imperfections, and technology continues to improve over time.
No method of identification is perfect. The best thing you can do to protect your pet is to be a responsible owner. Keep current identification tags on your pets at all times, consider microchipping as reinforcement, and never allow your pets to roam free. If your pet does become lost, more identification can increase the odds of finding your beloved companion.
Polk County has a unique licensing program where a licensed pet is not required to wear its license tag as long as it has a microchip. To take advantage of this program your pet’s rabies license tag must be current and you must register the microchip with our agency. Registration forms are available at Animal Control or you can click here to download the form.