Having a microchip implanted in your pet, a procedure known as microchipping, is a safe and effective way to help a missing pet return home.
About one in three pets go missing each year, which means more than 10 million pets slip through an open door, hop a fence, or break free from a leash. Animals that have a microchip are more likely to be reunited with their owners. 22 percent of dogs (without a microchip) who end up in animal shelters return home, according to PetFinder, while more than 52 percent of microchipped dogs go home. Less than 2 percent of lost cats without microchips in animal shelters but 38 percent of cats with microchips reunite with owners.
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. In a fast and painless procedure, veterinarian places a microchip just beneath the surface of the animal’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. The procedure is similar to receiving a shot, so your pet will react in the same as they do when receiving a yearly vaccination. Most mammals can be microchipped, including dogs, cats, horses, and even ferrets. The procedure is quick – it will take more time to do the paperwork than to inject the microchip.
The microchip does not contain an internal energy source, so it is safe and will last the life of your pet. The microchip is encoded with the dog or cat’s unique ID code. A microchip is a permanent form of identification for your pet. The technology cannot track your pet’s whereabouts but it can help identify you as the owner in case your pet is ever lost or stolen.
A veterinarian or specially trained person at an animal shelter waves a handheld scanner over this area of an animal’s body to detect the presence of a microchip and to read the information on it. The animal care professional will then enter the information into a national database of pet microchip information. The database then provides the owner’s contact information.
Even with microchipping, your pet will still need an ID tag. Most people do not own the handheld scanners necessary to detect and read a microchip. Others are unaware the microchips exist and would therefore not think to take the animal to a vet or animal shelter to be scanned. A few might even keep your pet. Having a tag with your name and phone number increases the likelihood that someone would contact you if they found your missing pet.