Microchipping Your Pet

What a devastating feeling! Somehow the back door had been left slightly open and when I noticed it a few hours later both the kitties were gone. They had never been outside before and it was dark and pouring rain. I spent a very unhappy night searching and calling and hoping they would find their way back and then for the next 6 days I searched every day. I had lost hope of finding them when I received a phone call from the Langley Animal Protection Society. They had found Dora in Aldergrove and were able to contact me through her microchip. A frantic drive from Richmond during rush hour and I had her back. Unfortunately, I was not as lucky with Louis although I still hold out hope that he will be identified as mine at some time in the future.

So, It can happen. Even if your cat is meant to be 100% indoors, or your dog is always on a leash, accidents can thwart your best laid plans. This is why we recommend some form of permanent identification. Options for this include collars and tags, tattoos or microchips.

A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder about the size of a grain of rice. It is implanted under the skin over the shoulders with a needle. The microchip is activated by a scanner and then transmits the identification number to the scanner. A microchip is not a GPS device. It cannot tell you where your pet is located. Maybe that will happen someday but for now it is only an identification device that uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) which allows a unique code on the chip to be read. The benefits of a microchip is that is a permanent method of identification and it will last the lifetime of the pet. Collars can fall off and tags can be lost. Tattoos can fade over time.

It is easy to have your pet microchipped. It is often done when the pet is under anesthetic for a routine spay or neuter but that is not absolutely necessary. A microchip can be implanted in the office without any sedation.

Animals with permanent identification are reunited with their guardians in far greater numbers than pets with no identification. If your pet is lost and is taken to a shelter or a veterinary hospital, they will use a scanner to check for a microchip. They can then look for the owner information based on that microchip number. It is important to keep your contact information up to date. There are a few ways to ensure that your microchip information will be available when needed. When a microchip is implanted in your pet, it will be registered with the microchip company with your pet’s and your contact information. There are a number of different microchip companies in North America. The American Animal Hospital Association has a universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool on their website. It is not a registry but is an internet-based application to assist in the identification of those registries on which a particular microchip is registered. There are also a number of microchip registries that you can also utilize. The BC Pet Registry is one option. It is operated by the BCSPCA. All dogs and cats adopted from the BCSPCA are registered automatically. Any pet can be registered with the BC Pet Registry. In addition to microchip numbers, they will also accept tattoos or municipal license numbers. There is a registration fee to cover operating costs. I was reunited with Dora thanks to the BC Pet Registry.

We still recommend your pet wears a collar as it is the most visible form of identification for your pet. If your pet is found locally, you may be reunited quicker as a neighbour can contact you.