No one ever believes that their pet will go missing, but it happens all too often. A door or gate can creak open unnoticed and given the chance, most dogs and cats will make a break for it. During stressful times, such as moving or emergencies, the risk of pets becoming separated from their families increases significantly. Sadly, many pets that slip outdoors never find their way back home.
Before the advent of modern technology, there were few options when it came to looking for a lost pet. Today, microchipping your pet can make a big difference in returning it home safely. In fact, microchipping is the single most effective means of reuniting pets and their owners.
You may be surprised to learn that in North America:
- A pet is lost every seven seconds
- One in three pets will go missing in their lifetime
- Only two per cent of lost cats and 17 per cent of lost dogs without ID return home
- When a pet gets lost, they are 20 times more likely to make their way back home when they have a microchip.
What is a microchip? It’s a small, rice-sized electronic chip that gets implanted just below your pet’s skin, typically between the shoulder blades. It is not a GPS tracking device; rather, it contains a unique number that is linked in a database to your name, address and telephone number. Should your pet become lost or separated from you, the microchip can be easily scanned at any veterinary office or shelter in North America, ensuring your pet’s safe return. It can also facilitate proof of ownership should any dispute arise.
Does my pet need both an ID tag and a microchip? Yes. Every pet, including cats, should always wear collar tags imprinted with their name and your phone number, whether or not they have a microchip. While ID tags are a first line of defence, many lost or stolen pets become separated from their collars. Microchips are the only way to provide permanent identification that cannot fall off, be removed or become difficult to read.
Is microchipping a complex or painful procedure? No. It is a simple procedure that takes mere minutes. Your pet will feel a small pinch — similar to getting a vaccination — but the discomfort is typically minimal and temporary.
When and where should my pet be micro-chipped? Pets can be microchipped as youngsters or as adults at your local veterinarian. All pets adopted from the NS SPCA are microchipped, as well as being spayed/neutered, vet checked and vaccinated. By adopting, you are not only giving a deserving homeless animal a loving home, but are receiving great value for the adoption fee.
Do I need to do anything after my pet is microchipped? Yes. It’s essential to keep your contact information up-to-date with the microchip company. If you move, change your phone number or other contact data, be sure to let the company know. If you don’t, your pet may as well not have a microchip. The SPCA receives many lost pets each year but can’t reunite them with their owner because microchip details have not been updated.
Microchipping your pet is part of responsible pet ownership. It’s fast, easy, inexpensive and lasts a lifetime. Microchipping can mean the difference between hope and heartbreak, between a lost pet coming home or not.
Judy Layne lives in Hackett’s Cove with her husband and their two adopted pets. A lifelong animal lover, Judy is a volunteer with the NS SPCA.