They may be tiny, but their impact is great.
You probably already know that if a lost pet has a microchip implanted, their chance of being reunited with their owner is greatly increased. But did you know that without a microchip (or any other form of ID) on average, only 2% of cats and 30% of dogs are returned to their owners? Placing a microchip can increase this success rate to 40% for cats and 60% for dogs. It is therefore very worthwhile to be sure all pets entering a shelter are scanned for a microchip and have a chip implanted if one is not found.
Keep that scanner handy
Ideally, every animal entering a shelter should be checked for a microchip with a universal scanner at the time of intake. The process takes less than 30 seconds and the only equipment required is a scanner that has fully charged batteries. The scanner should be held just above the animal’s body while it is moved slowly over the animal, covering the entire body. It is important to scan the whole animal because although most microchips are implanted between the shoulder blades, they can migrate over time. If a microchip is found and has been registered by the owner, the number can be entered into AHHA’s Pet Microchip Lookup tool in order to identify the owner. This process can also be done in the field by animal control officers, which may prevent a pet from entering a shelter altogether.
Give it a try
If a microchip is not identified at intake, it’s best to go ahead and place one at that time. This procedure is similar to giving an injection for a vaccine and causes minimal discomfort to the animal. If you are concerned that the animal will not remain still for the microchipping process, try distracting them with a treat or attention from another staff member. Check out the link below to see how microchipping is accomplished quick and easy!
Although implanting a microchip does not require anesthesia, many animal welfare organizations will wait to place one until the time of spay/neuter. This is particularly helpful if staff availability is limited for intake procedures. Additionally, there are no age restrictions when implanting a microchip. However, it is typical to wait until a kitten or puppy is 8 weeks of age before placing the chip, as this is the most common age these little ones are spayed or neutered.
Make microchipping one of your shelter’s protocols
It’s truly amazing that such a tiny and easy to use piece of technology can have such a large impact. We encourage every animal welfare organization to consider the potential life saving affects of microchips and be sure to scan every animal that enters their facility. Better yet, consider placing microchips in shelter animals to help ensure future owners will be reunited with their pet if ever lost!