August 15th is Check the Chip Day! No, not potato chips, or chocolate chips, but pet identification microchips! Thousands of pets going missing each year, but those with microchip identification are much more likely to be reunited with their families.
Every year there are stories in the news about cats and dogs being reunited with their owners weeks, months, or even years after they have gone missing. Just this past June, a lost cat was reunited with his owner after 10 years in the United Kingdom, and earlier this year, a lost dog was reunited with her family after 10 years in Pennsylvania! These are examples of pets being separated for long periods of time before being reunited, but there are far more examples of pets being returned to their families within just a couple of days or weeks
What is a microchip?
A microchip is a tiny computer chip about the size of a grain of rice. Each microchip has a unique number that is entered into an international database or registry. This unique number is associated with information that the owner has provided (owner’s name, address, and phone number; and pet’s breed, sex, and colour etc.). If the pet was microchipped by the breeder, the chip may be registered with the kennel club or the breeder from which the pet was purchased.
Update your information!
Microchipping is important for the identification of your pet but keeping the contact information associated with the chip up to date is even more important! In the case of the cat in the UK, the owner never gave up hope that his cat would be found – every time he moved, he updated his contact information with the registry. That action paid off when his cat turned up at a shelter, was scanned for a microchip, and the owner was identified and contacted!
Anytime you move, it is important to update the contact information associated with the microchip. Getting a new cell phone? Make sure you update the number with the registry! When you are travelling with your pet, this phone number becomes extremely important – your cell phone is the number where you can be reached, not your home phone!
Check the chip!
Check the Chip Day reminds pet owners to make an appointment with their veterinarian to have their pet’s microchip scanned. This ensures that the chip is where it should be and allows the pet owner or veterinarian to check if the chip is registered to the correct person and not the breeder or kennel club. It is also a reminder that if you have moved or have a new cell phone number, you must update that information with the registry.
Know your microchip number?
If you already know your pet’s microchip number, there is a free online tool available that allows owners to enter the number and find out which database the microchip is associated with. By visiting the corresponding database website, a pet owner can check the registered contact information and update it if necessary. The website for North American microchip registries is: http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/ (in the UK, the website is http://www.check-a-chip.co.uk/ and in Australia, the website is http://www.petaddress.com.au/).
We all take steps to prevent our pets from running away, but sometimes they will out-smart us and make a bee-line to a gap in a fence or slip out the door when we grab the mail. Even indoor cats should be microchipped – they can escape too! The odds of having your pet returned is greatly increased if your pet has a microchip.