Other than hanging identification tags on collars, I’ve always thought (and advised my clients) that microchipping our dogs and cats is the best way to ensure that we will be reunited should circumstances separate us. As it turns out, microchipping is not nearly so foolproof as I’ve believed- not because the chips are defective, but rather, because of human error. Have a look at what I just read in the November 1st edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA):
“A limitation of the microchip registry system is than many pet owners do not register microchips in their names according to ‘Characterization of animals with microchips entering animal shelters’ (see JAVMA, July 15, 2009). In that study, shelters contacted microchip registries regarding 1,943 animals but found registrations for only 58.1 percent. The registries were unable to find any information on the owner or on the person who implanted the microchip for 9.8 percent of the animals. Among other recommendations, the study’s authors suggested that veterinarians and shelter personnel should not only register pet microchips at the time of implantation, but also remind the pets’ owners to update information in the registry.
Jason Merrihew, American Animal Hospital Association spokesman said, educating pet owners is a key step to improve microchipping as a form of pet identification. ‘Every time that they change their address or change phone numbers, then they need to update that microchip information,’ Merrihew said.”
So what does all this mean? Here’s the bottom line in terms of achieving the intended purpose of your pet’s identification microchip: At the time your dog or cat is microchipped, be sure to complete the registration materials and have them processed with the appropriate microchip registry. Be sure your veterinarian (or whoever it is that implants the microchip) does the same. Additionally, update that registry whenever your contact data (telephone number, address) changes. I haven’t moved or changed my phone number (or my name!) in well over a decade, so my pets and I are in good shape. How about you and yours? Will your lost dog or cat be able to find you again? If you know your contact information is not current, or you are unsure, pick up the phone or go online today. It could make all the difference.
Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,
Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.
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