microchipping pets

For Pet Owners – The Statistics Are Downright Scary

Denise Follett, DVM
Brook-Falls Veterinary Hospital & Exotic Care, Inc.

One in three pets gets lost during their lifetime.  This may not be just from your care – daily pets get away from pet service providers such as pet groomers, pet sitters, dog walkers, boarding/ daycare facilities, trainers and even animal hospitals.

On average, 15 pet owners across the country walk into an animal hospital or shelter in any given community, to report lost pets each week. That estimate does not take into account the people who come in because they have found a lost pet and want to return it to its owner.

For pet owners – the above statistics are downright scary.


Identification Tags

Identifying lost pets is a big part of finding lost pets.  If you find a wandering pet, you need to know if he/she is lost before you can return them.  A collar with identification tags will always be the first line in hopes of returning a lost pet to its rightful owner.  Identification tags should be kept in good readable condition and should include the pets name, the owner’s name and current contact info.


Microchips are an excellent backup option for pet identification, especially if the pet wanders far from home, but it should never be the main one.   Microchipping requires a special scanner, and while an animal hospital or shelter will have one, the average citizen does not have access to one.  Microchipping pets

Each microchip contains a unique registration number.   When the microchip is implanted the microchip should be “registered “with the company that manufactured the chip.  The pets name and owners name contact info is then held in a database for ready access. A handheld scanner reads the radio frequency of the chip and displays the registration number.  An animal shelter or veterinary hospital that finds and scans the pet can contact the company and get the owner’s name and phone number, etc.

The most significant advantage to microchipping pets is that it is a permanent form of identification. Once implanted, the microchip can’t get lost – unlike the pet, it’s in.  The microchip itself is about the size of a grain of rice and it is injected by a hypodermic needle just under the pet’s skin.  Unlike a GPS tracker, microchips do not require a power source.  Because there is no battery and no moving parts, there’s nothing to keep changing, wear out or replace. Microchips are designed to work for 25 years, so they’ll easily last the lifetime of most pets.

The single biggest drawback to microchipping pets is that most pet owners don’t actually know what they do or how they work.  When people do find a pet, they often don’t realize; they need to take them to someone who can scan them in the first place.

Universal Microchip Lookup Tool

Additionally, different microchip companies used to maintain entirely separate databases, which caused problems. Not anymore. Today, some chip companies register pets with any brand of chip.  There are several free microchip registries available to owners to register chip information no matter who made the chip.  The Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool available at petmicrochiplookup.org provides a listing of the manufacturer with which the microchip’s code is associated, as well as if the chip information is found in participating registries. The database does not provide owner contact information for the microchip.  If users find the manufacturer in the Lookup Tool, they still have to contact the manufacturer before they can contact the pet owner.

52% Microchipped Dogs Returned to Owners Verses 21.9% Non Microchipped

While microchips aren’t foolproof – and pet owners shouldn’t rely on them exclusively to protect their pets – they are undeniably effective in helping recover lost pets.   A study of more than 7,700 shelter animals showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9 % of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned 52.5 % of the time.  Cats without microchips went home with owners only 18% of the time, while microchipped cats were reunited with their owners 38.5% of the time.

Significantly, when microchipped animals weren’t returned to their owners, most of the time it was due to incorrect information (or no information) in the microchip registry database(s).  This is why it is crucial for pet owners to keep their contact info updated.

Help keep your pet safe!  If your pet is not microchipped already  —   Call the hospital today to schedule an appointment and get this done now.

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