Did you know that out of the 6 to 8 million dogs and cats that enter U.S shelters every year, only 3 to 4% of dogs and less than 1% of cats that come in are microchipped? In a study back in 2009 with the ASPCA, out of the 7,700 pets that entered their shelter that year, cats without microchips were reunited only 1.8% of the time compared to those who were microchipped were reunited with their only 38.5% of the time. Dogs without chips were reunited only 2.2% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time (Lord et al, JAVMA, July 15, 2009). When it came to those who were not reunited with having a microchip, the reason was often out of date contact information or the chip not being registered with information, to begin with.
Almost all vets and shelters are equipped with microchip scanners and will scan a pet that is brought in for free. That way, if a good samaritan finds a stray, they can take them to the vet to be scanned and reunite the pet with the owner without taking them to the shelter. The scanner will give you the microchip number and the company it's registered with and then that information is linked to their contact information.
When it comes to getting a microchip, all shelter pets are given one prior to adoption (if they don't already have one) but it is up to the new adopter to register the chip information with a universal database. We suggest using Foundanimals.org, the first 100% free microchip registry. Other registries require a yearly fee. Animals adopted from private rescues will often have the rescues information on the chip and it's up to the new owner to add their own information. Many rescues require that their information stays on the chip in case the pet is abandoned, later on, gets lost and the owners can't be contacted or the animal is stolen and later found. Pets that are acquired in other ways (found on the street, breeder, etc) can easily receive a microchip for a small fee from a shelter, vet, or other vaccine clinics. The price may vary between $10-$25.
Let's go over some FAQ about microchips:
What EXACTLY is a microchip?
A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a grain of rice (AVMA). It contains an identification number that is associated with an online account containing contact and vet information. It is not a GPS tracker and only stores the identification number.
Can they move?
Microchips bond with the soft tissue within 24 hours of being injected but can sometimes move to other parts of the body prior to bonding. The chip will never be "lost" and will always be able to be picked up by a scanner. But, in rare instances, the microchip might fail and not be picked up by the scanner. This is another reason to always have up to date tags on your pets!
Does it hurt?
Nope! It might pinch like any other vaccine but it doesn't continue to hurt or cause pain post-injection unless there is a rare adverse reaction. The needle is only slightly bigger than a standard needle and inserts the microchip direction under the skin.
How big is it?
Microchips are smaller than a grain of rice and is inserted between the shoulder blades. You might occasionally feel it when petting your dog or cat.
Are there any adverse effects?
Problems associated with implanting a microchip are very rare. The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) monitored over 4 million microchipped animals in a database since 1996 with only 351 having any kind of adverse reactions. The most common reason for these reactions was the microchip migrating. Other uncommon reactions were hair loss, infection, swelling, and tumor formation which only happened in a small percentage of affected animals.
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