No, not potato chips – but microchips, the chips used for identification should a pet become lost!
Accidents happen. Your cat or dog slips out the door when you collect the mail. Your dog digs out of your yard to follow a scent. Your cat wanders outside of her usual route around the neighborhood and doesn’t return at dinner time. If your pet wears a collar with an identification tag, chances are good that you’ll receive a phone call and get him back. But what happens if his collar comes off or he isn’t wearing one?
Every year there are news stories about pets being reunited with their family, months (or even years!) after going missing – all thanks to microchip technology. Most recently, a Kansas cat named “Meow” was reunited with her family after nearly 3 years! Meow’s owner received a text message letting her know that she had been found.
Many pets are microchipped at their first visit to the veterinarian. Others, such as those in shelters, are microchipped before being placed in their new home, or are microchipped by the breeder.
A microchip is a tiny computer chip, about the size of a grain of rice, that has a unique number. This number is registered with an international database and is associated with the pet owner. The registry stores information such as the pet owner’s name and contact information, along with information about the pet (e.g., breed, coat color, sex, and whether the pet is spayed or neutered).
Sometimes the microchip number has been registered with the kennel club, a breeder, or a previous owner, so it’s very important that you update the information when you adopt a pet with a microchip! Likewise, anytime you move, or change your phone number or email address, you must update your contact information with the registry – otherwise, locating you, and reuniting you and your pet, becomes difficult when your pet is found. It’s the pet owner’s responsibility to keep the registry informed of any changes in ownership or contact information.
There are several microchip databases. If you know the chip number, there’s free on-line tool available that allows you to enter the number and find out which database your pet’s microchip is registered with. Then, by visiting that database’s (or company’s) website, you can check the contact information and update it if necessary. The website for North American microchip registries is: http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/ (in the UK, the website is http://www.check-a-chip.co.uk/ and in Australia, the website is http://www.petaddress.com.au/).
If your pet isn’t microchipped (or you aren’t sure if he is), make an appointment with your veterinarian to check for one, and if there isn’t one, get one. Don’t forget to Check the Chip – today!