Millions of dogs become lost or separated from their owner each year. Tragically, few are reunited with their owners. Many lost dogs end up in shelters where they are adopted out to new homes or even euthanized. It is important that your dog has identification at all times. Collars and tags are essential, but they can fall off or become damaged. Technology has made it possible to equip your pet with a microchip for permanent identification.
How it Works
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It consists of a tiny computer chip housed in a type of glass made to be compatible with living tissue. The microchip is implanted between the dog’s shoulder blades under the skin with a needle and special syringe. The process is similar to getting a shot. Little to no pain is experienced – most dogs do not seem to even feel it being implanted. Once in place, the microchip can be detected immediately with a handheld device that uses radio waves to read the chip. This device scans the microchip, and then displays a unique alphanumeric code. Once the microchip is placed, the dog must be registered with the microchip company, usually for a one-time fee. Then, the dog can be traced back to the owner if found.
Microchips are not tracking systems and only effective when someone uses a ‘scanner’ to read the microchip information. The microchip number has to be phoned into a central call center to locate the current owner of the dog.
IF YOU INFORMATION IS NOT CURRENT, you may never get a phone call or letter about your lost dog. It is imperative that your dog’s microchip registrations be correct with the most current information to contact you should you dog be lost. Over 75% of the bulldogs that come into rescue that already have microchips are not registered with ‘any owner’ and the shelter could not return the dogs home for that reason.
Things You Should Know
- Microchips are designed to last for the life of a dog. They do not need to be charged or replaced.
- Some microchips have been known to migrate from the area between the shoulder blades, but the instructions for scanning emphasize the need to scan the dog’s entire body.
- A microchipped dog can be easily identified if found by a shelter or veterinary office in possession of a scanner. However, some shelters and veterinary offices do not have scanners.
- Depending on the brand of microchip and the year it was implanted, even so-called universal scanners may not be able to detect the microchip.
- Microchip manufacturers, veterinarians and animal shelters have been working on solutions to the imperfections, and technology continues to improve over time.
No single method of identification is perfect. The best thing you can do to protect your dog is to be a responsible owner. Keep current identification tags on your dog at all times, consider microchipping as reinforcement, and never allow your dog to roam free. If your dog does become lost, more identification can increase the odds of finding your beloved companion.