The Importance of Microchipping Your Pet

By Emily Hoppmann, DVM

As you all hopefully know, once you walk in the door of Elgin Veterinary Hospital, you and your pets become part of our family. As a family, when you have a pet, it is just like having a child and you want to do everything you can to love and protect him. This puts us all on the same page where, as a team, we can work together to help you make important decisions regarding your pet’s care to achieve the longest, happiest, quality time for you and your pet. As partners’ in your pet’s lives, we want to be there every step of the way, making sure that you and your pets are happy and living life to the fullest! One way we can protect our pets is by microchipping all of our patients (our four-legged family members).

The American Humane Society reports that at least ten million dogs and cats are lost or stolen every year. To bring it even closer to home, 1 in 3 pets become lost or stolen at some point in their lives and only 17% of unidentified dogs and 2% of unidentified cats make it back home. The great news is that we have the power to change those numbers for our pets and patients. In fact, 94% of pets that are microchipped and registered are successfully reunited with their families. Registration is key here – you have to make sure to register and to update your information if it changes. At some clinics the registration cost is not included in the microchipping fee, but it is pointless to have a microchip put in and not register it so be sure to do that. If your pet is microchipped here at Elgin Veterinary Hospital the cost of registration, a wallet sized card and 2 key chain cards with your pet’s microchip number on them are all included with the fee. We also offer wallet sized pet identification cards, which can quickly provide you with specific information about your pet and a photo of your animal if lost or stolen and you need something to prove that you are the owner and the person does not have a scanner.

Microchips are easily placed in-between the shoulder blades of a patient and I have microchipped everything from a dog to a snake, so what type of animal it is does not matter. It is not a tracking device, but a permanent form of identification that will last a lifetime. The placement takes less than a minute and is simple, quick and non-surgical; It is just like giving a shot to the patient, just in a different spot. Since it is so fast it can be done at any routine office visit or it can be done on its own, with no charge for an office exam. Some cities and countries legally require that an animal have a microchip, so be sure to look into local laws before traveling with your pet. Anyone can buy a universal scanner that will allow the number of the microchip to be read, the company contacted, and you to be reunited with your pet. If you find an animal the first thing you should do is have it scanned for a microchip. Typical places that should have a scanner include veterinary hospitals, animal control, airports, seaports, rescue organizations, police forces, highway authorities, and shelters. If your pet is stolen, the microchip is your only legal proof of ownership and, in some states, that means a felony sentence for the person in possession of your animal. Another advantage in some states is that if your pet is lost, turned into a shelter, or caught by animal control, having your pet microchipped allows you to reclaim your pet with no fees.

There is not a reason in the world not to have your pet microchipped and there are many compelling reasons to microchip your animal. I recommend it for all of my patients and have microchipped all of my furry kids at home. For me, having them microchipped helps me to sleep easier because I know it gives me a better chance of being in that reunited group. Isn’t that where we all want to be?