Everyone Should Have Their Pets Microchipped

When we brought Tegan, our Corgi puppy, home from the breeder, we came home with more than just a supply of food and a couple of chew toys; we came home with a puppy who had been microchipped.

We’ve always microchipped our dogs since the first chips for pets became available in 1991. (Texas Instruments developed the first microchip for industrial use in 1959). We’d bring a new dog home and make an appointment to have the dog chipped at the veterinarian’s. This time, the breeder herself had the puppies microchipped.

Before settling, once again, on a Corgi, we had visited a breeder of Australian Shepherds and Miniature American Shepherds. She, too, chipped all her puppies before sending them to their new homes. When I asked my dog writing list about breeders chipping, I found out that in Canada, the Canadian Kennel Club requires all registered dogs to have either a microchip or a tattoo. Increasingly more breeders, shelters and rescue groups are chipping animals before they go home.

In some cases, the breeder or humane group registers the chip, listing themselves as a secondary contact in case for some reason the owner’s information is incorrect. This can happen if the owner moves and neglects to notify the chip registry of the change. In my case, the chip information came in Tegan’s “baby book” and I went on line to register his chip.

I love the idea that more and more breeders, rescue groups and shelters are chipping. Some new owners might not know about the chip, or might, in the excitement of bringing a new dog home, forget that he chip was an option. Others might not chip because of the cost. While I would have had Tegan chipped anyway, having the breeder do it saved me a veterinary visit as well as the cost of implanting the chip.

If you’re not familiar with microchips, they are tiny capsules about the size of a grain of rice that are implanted between the shoulders of dogs and cats for identification purposes. They can be used as identification for almost any animal, but the location of the implant varies. The chips use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology and a chip scanner can read the number on the chip that is associated with your pet. Using that number, a shelter worker or someone in a veterinary office can contact the chip company and learn your identity and contact information.

The major chip distributors are HomeAgain, Friendchip, 24PetWatch, AKC Reunite, and ResQ. While not all chip scanners can read the frequency of all the different chip makers, universal scanners will detect a chip most of the time.

Unlike identification tags, microchips can’t get lost or misplaced. ID tags on a collar are a great idea, but what if the collar comes off, or what if your dog escapes after a bath and isn’t wearing his collar? Many cats don’t wear any type of collar at all, meaning there’s no way to find a lost cat’s owner if the cat isn’t chipped.

Sometimes lost pets don’t end up in a shelter or at a veterinarian’s. They end up in someone’s home and that person may not think to take the animal to a location that has a scanner. The finder may be someone unfamiliar with the microchip. That’s why I like the tag that I received from AKC Reunite when I registered Tegan’s chip. They sent me a small collar tag that has the toll-free number for AKC Reunite, as well as the identification number for Tegan. If Tegan’s ever lost, but is wearing his collar, no scanner will be necessary.

We’ve been lucky. We’ve never lost one of our dogs, but I know it’s a possibility. As careful as we are, all it would take would be an open door, or forgetting to latch the gate in our backyard fence. I’ve heard of dogs being lost when they escape from a car during an accident, and, when traveling, there’s always the possibility that a dog could escape at a rest area, or going in or out of a motel room door.

I will always have any dog I own microchipped and I’m thrilled that more and more breeders are chipping the puppies. It’s a bonus if your dog comes with a chip, but even if you have it done, it’s a small price to pay for an identification system that can get your dog back home to you.