Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Importance of Micro-chipping Your Pet

Every pet owner has experienced a situation similar to the following: walking into your home/barn/backyard and your dearly loved pet is no where to be found. Hopefully, your pet is just hiding underneath the couch, but if the situation seems to be a bit more dire, Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a veterinarian at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, may have some helpful advice.

Pets are adventure seeking animals in general, so it is not surprising that from time to time pets wander away from their homes. This can be a traumatic experience for the pet owner, but micro-chipping can ensure that the pet is safely returned to the owner.

“Micro-chips are used as a way of identifying an animal; like a form of tattoo,” explains Beaver.

Microchips may be used on many different species of animals including dogs, cats, horses, goats, and cattle. According to Beaver, the micro-chip is a small pseudo-ceramic device that is about the size of a small grain of rice. The device is inserted into the animal via a large syringe.

“The procedure is relatively painless for most animals, and can likely be done at your local veterinarian’s office,” states Beaver.

Each micro-chip has a unique serial number, which can be retrieved with the use of a device. It is vastly important to register your pet’s unique micro-chip number with a national agency after the procedure has been completed. An ideal time to get the procedure done is when the pet is getting spayed or neutered, since the pet will already be under anesthesia.

“Two of more well known national agencies are Avid and Home Again,” said Beaver.

The pet owner can get the information about national registration from their local veterinarian’s office. All paper work must be completed and there is a small fee for the service.

Micro-chipping has not been proven to have any negative affects on the animal other than the small amount of pain the shot entails. The micro-chip can also be inserted at any age and can be used for the extent of the pets life.

How does the microchip work? When the pet decides to wander away from home, the pet may just wander into the hands of the animal shelter or a veterinarian’s office. Here, the pet can be scanned for its unique micro-chip number and the shelter or veterinarian will proceed to call the national agencies. If the owner has the pets’ micro-chip number, a positive identification can be made. The owner is then contacted and reunited with the wayward pet.

“It is extremely important that the pet’s micro-chip number be registered at the national level. If this is not done, there is no reason to have the pet micro-chipped in the first place, since no identification could be made by the micro-chip number alone,” states Beaver.

Micro-chipping has been proven to be extremely important especially during times of natural disaster. For example, hurricane Katrina caused many people to evacuate without much warning. Some pets were left behind or separated from their owners while being relocated; with the aide of pet micro-chipping and micro-chip registration at the national level, many of the pets were safely returned to their owners.

Pet Talk is a service of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

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