Purrfect Talker: Don’t Let the Chips Fall Where They May

Chip your pets! If you own three animals, the probability is that one of them will be lost or stolen. No matter how diligent the caretaker, unfortunate things happen. After a year of living with my first cat that I unwisely let be indoor-outdoor but always indoors when I wasn’t home, disappeared. As soon as I walked in, my 1200 sq. ft. house had that “uninhabited” feeling and I began to panic. I called, and no response. I searched everywhere, then went through the house again. In total panic, I noticed a screen pushed out of an upstairs window that was open about 6 inches. And there was my Sami, prancing around on the roof and staying just out of reach. I never again “assumed” screens, or anything else, were going to make my cat safe.

In the 1980’s, microchipping came out of the labs and into the private lives of pet owners. Of those, many are registered with out of date contact information so the chip is basically worthless.

The ASPCA estimates that 6.5 million animals are lost every year, and 1.5 million are then euthanized. Without a chip, about 98% of shelter cats will never be returned to their adopters, and 78% of unchipped dogs will be not be returned. Approximately 9,000 a day will be euthanized. The good news is that 52% of dogs and 38% of cat will be returned if they are chipped!

So what is this “chip” thing? It’s a tiny, grain-of-rice-sized device or for a human, (about 15 grains of rice if you weigh 150 lbs.) Nevertheless, it can be done on cats and dogs, even ferrets and bunnies, without sedation, and purportedly causes about the same amount of pain as a vaccination. Not sure if the animals “purported” that or the vets did, though. ☹

The implanted chip lasts can be read at shelters and at most vets’ offices for an estimated 25+ years. Some companies selling chip charge a yearly “monitoring” fee, and it is up to the owner to make sure all contact info is updated. Make a note now on your calendars: with a yearly vet inspection, make sure the chip is still searchable. Also, put a note on your contact card for your TV or phone system to remember to change the contact information if you move, or get a new contact phone # for any reason. The chip is worthless without this info.

Microchipping is also available for our two-legged friends. Uh, not the humans, but the birds, especially larger birds like parrots and African greys. They have to be sedated. Insertion for two-leggeds is in the breast tissue, whereas in our hairy friends it is inserted under the loose skin at the back of the neck and takes the same time as a vaccination.

So, you ask, how much? All that technology—sounds expensive! I’ve been able to find estimates for $35 – $60 per implant, with multi-animal discounts available. That is for avet exam, insertion, and chip. My personal vet charges $51; they include the necessary registration fee of $18. Your vet can provide all necessary info to register and/or update your contact information, or answer other questions.

If you think it’s too much, think about this. If your baby gets out, how much would you offer for a reward to get her/him back? What if she is hurt by another animal or he is hit by a car, what will the monetary cost be? And what will the emotional and mental cost to you be?

There are multiple suppliers of the chips, and different companies offer different benefits, including vet reimbursement in case of an accident.

Take action now.
1) Make an appointment to get your animal chipped. (If your pet is already chipped, (any adopted from Texas Humane Heroes will be) call to verify that all info is current with the national registry: phone, cell phone, email, secondary contacts data, and address.
2) If your pets are already microchipped, get them scanned at the next vet visit and yearly after that to make sure chip is scanable and all info is correct.
3) If you have changed phone numbers or addresses, or if your secondary contact people have had similar changes, take a few moments and call to make sure you remembered to change all that information with the registry.
4) If for some dire reason you have to give up Pet, immediately contact the registry and advise them that you are no longer the owner so no time is wasted trying to contact you.
5) As an additional safeguard to bring that baby home-Immediately write, with Magic Marker, put your phone number, on the outside of the collar your pet is wearing—always-safety collars for cats, please! And if s/he is lost and years later someone scans that chip, you will be notified, so even if your pet has disappeared, continue to do contact updates…forever, because that’s how long Pet will belong to you. Don’t wait, when it’s too late…it’s too late!

For stories: http://mentalfloss.com/article/57394/9-incredible-stories-lost-and-found-cats
For more info: Your vet is your first and best source of information
For more in-depth information about technical details, potential medical issues, etc.: http://www.goodpetparent.com/2016/02/05/microchipping/
National Registry: http://petchipregistry-us.info/pet_chip_registry
And https://www.foundanimals.org/microchip-registry/
No “900” chips…irresponsible companies: http://stevedalepetworld.com/some-pet-microchip-companies-acting-irresponsibly/