Positive identification is the only way to ensure that you are reunited with your pet if it becomes lost or stolen. A secure collar with tags indicating the home address and phone numbers is a good start. The problem is that collars come off. A thief would simply remove one, and cat collars are designed to “break-away” in case the collar gets hung on a fence or tree limb. Fortunately, there has been technology developed that addresses this concern. A tiny chip contained in surgical grade glass can be implanted beneath the skin and scanned at any time to provide a unique identification number. Veterinarians, shelters, and animal control departments have the hand held scanners to check lost pets for a chip.
The microchip is not powered and never wears out. It is about the size of a large grain of rice and contains electronics that contain a unique identification code. No personal information is held on the chip, and they cannot be reprogrammed. The code on the chip is registered with the manufacturer’s recovery database along with the pet owner’s emergency contact information. They cannot be located on a GPS or other tracking device. The scanner activates the chip when it is held in close proximity to the pet. There is no problem with taking a microchipped pet on an airplane, and some countries even require a microchip as part of the disease quarantine process.
Implanting the chip can be performed without anesthesia. The procedure is relatively painless. A modified syringe and large bore needle are used to place the glass tube beneath the skin, usually between the shoulder blades. Scar tissue forms around small barbs on the microchip to keep it from migrating out of place. Some pet owners will opt to have this procedure done at the time of spaying and neutering.
There are several brands of identification chips that are FDA approved for implantation in dogs and cats. Some brands can be read by other company’s scanners, and some cannot. Pet owner’s should consult their veterinarian about which brand of microchip is most universally readable in their area.
Microchipping is the most effective method of positively identifying your pet. Each year, thousands of dogs and cats are reunited with their owners thanks to this technology.