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Cats and Dogs, Critter Chatter, Healthcare, Safety

CRITTER CHATTER: July is Pet Loss Prevention Month

The Paw Print

Essential Pet Blog


black and white dog, looking sad. July is Pet Loss Prevention Month

Where did you sleep last night?
Under the cold street light?

Lost Dog by Sarah Jarosz

A soldier was reunited with her dog, who went missing from Fort Hood in Texas three years previously and was found a thousand miles away in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Molly had been left with a friend when the soldier was deployed to Iraq and wandered off. Marley, a five-year-old cat was able to spend Christmas with his owner after cruising the streets of New Jersey for five months. Both of these happy endings came about because of a tiny device known as a microchip.

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a radio-frequency transponder roughly the size of a grain of rice that carries a unique identification number. There is no battery, no power is required, and there are no moving parts. The microchip is injected under the loose skin between your pet’s shoulder blades by a veterinarian and is no more invasive than a routine vaccination.

How does a microchip work?

When a veterinarian or shelter scans the microchip, the ID number that is transmitted is unique to that animal- no other pet will have that number. The ID number in the chip must be registered with a national pet recovery database. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) website provides a list of companies that maintain databases that list ID numbers and owner contact information. When a lost pet is scanned and a microchip number is identified, the AAHA Universal Microchip Tool helps locate the owner using information stored on the database.

When you register your pet’s microchip, enter all relevant contact information, including both landline and cellphone numbers for you and anyone else in your household who is responsible for ownership. Always keep your contact information up to date with the registry. If you move or change telephone numbers, notify the registry immediately.

A microchip is not a tracking device and not a substitute for a GPS. Each is useful in locating a lost pet, but in different ways. A GPS may tell you where your pet is, but it can’t provide your contact information to those nearby that would help return him home. It also requires batteries and can be lost, like a collar or tags. A microchip, because it’s inserted into a pet’s skin, is permanent. It can’t guide you to their location but provides a way for you to be contacted by any veterinarian or shelter when your pet is brought in.

Microchipping is a simple way to greatly increase the chances of your pet being reunited with you, should they ever get lost or separated. According to statistics, one in three dogs become lost at some point in their lives, but pets with microchips are up to 20 times more likely to be reunited with their owners. It’s a simple, inexpensive procedure, and the risks are minimal.

Celebrate National Pet Loss Prevention Month by getting your pet microchipped, so he won’t ever sleep under a cold streetlight or, worse, be lost forever.

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a vet and his dogABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Brown holds a Doctorate Degree in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of California at Davis, a Master of Science Degree in Animal Science and Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Physiology from the University of California.  Following discharge from the Air Force as a Captain, he owned and operated the largest veterinary hospital on Cape Cod for almost twenty years. Brown is the past President of the Yavapai Humane Society Board of Directors, Branding Committee Chairman for National Animal Supplement Council and member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  He writes and lectures frequently on the benefits of natural and organic foods and supplements for animals and lives with his wife and a Golden doodle named Charlotte.

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