JoAnna Lou
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Helping Lost Dogs Come Home
Study shows the importance of microchipping pets.
Implanting a microchip is a quick procedure that serves as a backup to the traditional collar and tags.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association showed that shelters are able to identify over 70 percent of pets that enter their doors, as long as they are implanted with a microchip.   

Besides reinforcing microchipping as an important identification tool, there were two important findings to note.

Of the pets who couldn’t be identified, the main reason was because of outdated information in the registration database. 

The researchers are optimistic that a new website developed by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) will facilitate timely registration updates. The website enables people to look up a microchip, find out which companies the number is registered with, and update information with the provided phone number.

Also, while 87 percent of microchips were detected when the pets first entered the shelter, 12 percent of microchips would’ve been missed without multiple scans. Even more, the study discovered a small percentage of microchips were detected just before the animals were scheduled to be euthanized.  

I certainly hope that with this study more shelters will make it standard process to scan animals multiple times. It also highlights the importance of not relying on a single identification method.

Unfortunately, most people haven’t taken advantage of this inexpensive technology. The study found that only 1.8 percent of all shelter animals have microchips.

I’ve always wanted to use as many methods as possible to ensure that my dogs find their way home. So, in addition to collars and tags, all of my dogs are microchipped and registered with Home Again and the AKC Companion Animal Recovery database.

I try to make sure that I keep the registries updated, but with prompting from this study, I used the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup website to verify the registries and used the website links to make sure my contact information was up to date.

I’m glad that universal microchip resources are being created and I encourage all of you to double check your registry contact information. I hope that this study encourages more people to take advantage of this low cost method of identifying pets.

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by Home Again.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Rex | October 27 2009 |

Thanks for the tip; I just checked my dog's chip. A little piece of mind. Here's another great story of a microchipped Lab wandering from Eastern Oregon to Seattle. http://bit.ly/1Aq1G4
A little more reinforcement.

Submitted by Carolyn | October 28 2009 |

I was under the impression that there were several types of chips and each could only be read by its own scanner. So that, in essence, it would be a matter of luck if your dog was scanned with a scanner capable of reading the microchip. If the scanner used couldn't read your dog's chip, then you are out of luck.

I have been interested in this technology for some time but we live outside the US for 10-11 mos./yr. where there are NO scanners of any kind. I haven't been sure what to do for the 2 mos. we are in the US with regard to getting my dog chipped.

Are there any updates on the microchip/scanner compatibility issue? The universal look up is certainly a valuable step forward.

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