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Microchip Myths

Date: August 10, 2016

When pets go missing, one of the best ways to ensure they are reunited with their families is to have them microchipped. Unfortunately, many people don’t have their pets microchipped because of fears they have about the chips that just aren’t true. Additionally, those who do have their pets microchipped believe that simply having the chip inserted in their pets is all they need to do to ensure their pet is returned to them.

The volunteers and staff at Friendswood Animal Control meet many pet owners who have inaccurate beliefs about microchips that can keep them from being reunited with their pets, should they get lost or stolen. Here are the most common myths they hear about microchipping pets and the truth about microchipping.

“I don’t want my pet microchipped because I don’t want just anyone to have my contact information.”

Veterinarians and animal control facilities are the ones most likely to have a microchip scanner. When a chip is scanned, the only information they receive is your pet’s microchip number. At that point, the veterinarian or animal control officer must call the microchip company to get further information. When you register your pet’s microchip, you can tell the microchip company whether you want identifying information released, or have the microchip company contact you to let you know your pet has been found. Therefore, you have control of what information about you is released, if any.

“My pets don’t need microchips because they have collars with ID tags.”

Collars with ID tags are a great way to get your pet returned to you quickly because any finder can contact you if they have your pet. Unfortunately, collars sometimes come off, leaving your pet with no identification at all. Additionally, if a pet has been lost for a while and has gotten dirty, finders may remove your pet’s collar to give it a bath, and the collar may not get put back on.

“Microchips are painful and I don’t want a foreign object in my pet’s body.”

Veterinarians have been implanting microchips in animals for years, and the process has been proven to be very safe. The chip is made out of an inert material that is not harmful to a pet’s tissue. It won’t cause an allergic or rejection reaction in your pet. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and although it is implanted with a needle that’s larger than a vaccine needle, most pets handle the procedure quite easily, because it’s so quick.  However, if you’re still concerned, you can always have your pet’s microchip implanted when he or she is being spayed or neutered, or during another procedure when the pet is anesthetized. When pets are adopted from Friendswood Animal Control, they are microchipped at the time they are spayed or neutered.

“Microchipping is too expensive.”

When a pet is adopted from Friendswood Animal Control, microchipping is included in the adoption fee. In fact, for the $85 adoption fee for cats and the $100 adoption fee for dogs, adopters receive a veterinary exam, vaccines, spay or neuter, and the microchip; about $300 worth of services. If you already have a pet, the cost for microchipping ranges from about $25-$50 and many rescue groups and non-profit organizations offer discount microchipping to the public. Finally, think of the cost of offering a reward for your lost pet and the cost in time and heartache looking for a pet that has no identification. When you do, the investment for a microchip is a good one.

“My cat never goes outside and my dog never leaves the yard, so they don’t need microchips.”

For all the calls received at Friendswood Animal Control about missing pets, almost half of them are from pet owners who say that their pet never goes outside or leaves the yard. Sometimes doors and gates get left open and curious pets wander away. Pets who aren’t used to being “at large” are the ones most likely to become lost forever. One volunteer at animal control had her own indoor cat get out of the house after the back door blew open in bad weather. The cat was gone for ten days, but luckily, he was microchipped and was returned when a good neighbor found him and took him to a vet to be scanned.

“My pet is microchipped. So all I have to do if he gets lost is wait for a call.”

This myth is probably the most dangerous one of all. Just because a pet has a microchip implanted doesn’t mean it will automatically be returned. It’s imperative that as soon as a pet goes missing, owners take steps to let friends, neighbors, veterinarians, and animal control facilities know that the pet is lost.

Here’s why:

  • Not all finders will take a pet to be scanned for a chip. Many people assume that if someone is missing their pet, he or she place signs in the neighborhood saying the pet is lost. When they don’t see any signs, they sometimes claim the pet for their own or give it away.

     

  • To be effective, microchips must be registered and your contact information must be current. Approximately 30 percent of microchips scanned by staff at Friendswood Animal Control are either unregistered or come back with out-of-date contact information for the owner, making it impossible to return the pet. When your pet is microchipped, confirm with your veterinarian or the organization doing the microchipping who is responsible for registering the chip. Even if the someone else is supposed to register the chip, contact the microchip company with your pet’s chip number, and confirm that the chip is registered and all your contact information is correct.

If you have questions or need more information about microchipping your pet, contact Friendswood Animal Control at 281-996-3390.