pesty pets

microchip ’em, already!

As you know I recently lost, then found, The Dog.

It was seriously due to his microchip that the shelter he was dropped off at knew he belonged to someone, and were able to quickly track me down and let me know that they had found him.

The vet at the shelter told me that there are so many pets that get dropped off or left at the shelter that don’t have microchips, or worse yet, have microchips that aren’t registered and are therefore useless. So, I thought I would do a little post about microchips for your pets and what I learned after my recent experience.

What is a microchip?

As you might guess, it’s a tiny little, well, microchip. It gets injected between your animal’s shoulder blades and stays there for the life of your pet. You can’t see it or even feel it. It provides a unique ID for your pet and is used to identify it if it gets lost or stolen.

What does it do?

What it doesn’t do is track your pet via GPS. If you want one of those, google “pet GPS tag” and then honestly let me know if it works, because I’ve been considering one for Dog. And maybe even Cat. What it does do is store an ID number which is unique to the microchip, and therefore to your pet. It is scanned using a little handheld scanner which shows the ID number on the chip as well as the manufacturer.

How does it work?

There are all kinds of places you can go to have a pet scanned for a microchip – vets, shelters, humane societies, even pet stores. When the microchip is scanned, the person scanning it can see the ID number and manufacturer stored on the chip. Then, they (or you) can look up the ID number on the chip to get the owner’s name or contact information.

The key to this is to make sure you register your microchip. Just having the microchip injected does not automatically protect your pet or make it so they can find you if he gets lost. If you haven’t gone online to register the ID number on your pet’s microchip, then when someone searches the national databases for that microchip ID, nothing will come up. Which doesn’t help anyone trying to track you down to return your lost or stolen pet to you.

How do you get a chip?

You can get a microchip for your pet at the vet. It’s quick, simple, and like getting an ordinary shot. The HomeAgain website has a page with videos and everything that explains how it works in far fewer words than I used.

If you got your pet at a shelter or the humane society, he or she may already have a chip in place. If so, be sure to get the ID number and manufacturer of the chip and make sure to register it as soon as you get home. What you don’t want is to have your pet get lost or stolen, and get scanned only to have no information on file for how to contact you.

If you lost the ID number, take your pet to the nearest vet and get it scanned to get the ID number and manufacturer. It takes just a few minutes and you will be so glad you did if your pet is ever lost.

How do you register a chip?

It’s pretty easy, and there are a bunch of sites where you can do it. Most sites I found charge an annual fee of less than $20 to store and update your information. In addition, you can register your microchip either with the manufacturer or other sites that allow you to register any type of microchip. This makes the ID number searchable and returns your contact information in case someone finds your pet and gets him or her scanned.

The shelter assured me that they scan every pet that gets dropped off or found for the presence of a microchip. When they find one, they typically start their search with the manufacturer’s website and broaden their search from there.

Some sites you can go to and register any kind of chip:

  • HomeAgain: This one is one of the ones I used, even though Dog’s chip is made by AVID. Having my current contact information on file with HomeAgain means that if anyone searches the HomeAgain site, or any database that HomeAgain communicates with, means my current contact information will be returned. Your annual registration fee includes email notifications to local businesses if your pet is lost, reward posters that provide a 1-800 number for people to call if they find him, and a bunch of other services you can take advantage of if you lose your pet.
  • Free Pet Microchip Registry: I didn’t use this one, but it says it’s free and seems legitimate. In my opinion, the more sites you register your information with, the more likely you are to get a call if/when you lose your pet.
  • RFID – USA Microchip Registry: This is the second site I used, also for an $18 annual fee. This one allows you to update your information at any time and contributes your information to a national database that stores information for any and all types of microchips.

Okay, sermon over.

Just one last thing. Even if you don’t register at one of the sites that requires an annual fee, at the very least sign up for any free registration sites you can find. It can’t hurt, and if your pet is lost you will be glad for any little thing that will help.

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