Microchipping 101: The basics of reuniting pets with their owners

<strong>Julie Voltin, DVM, who recently became owner of Uptown Animal Hospital, is offering free exams to new and returning customers through the month of April.</strong>

The microchip identification system has been reuniting lost pets with owners for more than 20 years. Although it has dramatically reduced the number of lost pets in the system, there are still many pets that are not microchipped. Even more alarming is the number of pets that are microchipped but were never registered with their owner’s information. It is important to know exactly what a microchip is and what it can provide for pets and their owners.
The microchip is a tiny computer chip with a unique number programmed into it. The whole device is small enough to fit inside a hypodermic needle and is simply injected under the skin where it remains for a pet’s life. A radio signal scanner is used to read this number through the skin of the pet.
There are several different microchip companies on the market. AVID and Home Again are the most widely used companies. Most of the scanners that read pets’ identification numbers are “universal” and will read all microchip numbers, regardless of the brand. Once a pet has been microchipped, the number must be registered with the owner’s information. Many veterinary hospitals will automatically register pets at the time of implantation or give their owners the necessary information to register their pets themselves. If the pet owner moves or there is a change of ownership, the information must be updated. If a shelter or animal hospital finds a pet with a microchip, they will call the microchip company. If the pet is registered, the shelter or hospital will be given the owner’s name and contact information.
It is important to know that a microchip does not “track” an animal like a “LoJack” system for a car. It is similar to an ID tag on their collar, only better because it can’t fall off. The microchip provides a permanent, positive identification which cannot be lost, altered or intentionally removed. It is a safe, simple and inexpensive way to protect a pet against loss or theft. As long as the owner keeps their information current, if their pet ends up at an animal shelter or veterinary hospital, they can be notified.
Uptown Animal Hospital is located at 3350 Atlantic Ave., and can be reached at (562) 424-8541.

animals, Pets

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