The 6 Steps to Microchipping Your Pet
Lifestyle Did you know that more than 5 million dogs and cats enter U.S. shelters each year and that many of them are lost family pets?
In fact, as many as 1 in 3 pets will get lost at some point in their lifetime. The odds are not in a lost pet’s favor either. Specifically, in the Los Angeles area, less than 5 percent of the cats and 20 percent of the dogs that enter the shelter system are ultimately returned to an owner.
But, fortunately, there are things we can do as responsible pet owners to increase the odds of lost pets finding their way home. According to a study, dogs with microchips are more than twice as likely to be reunited with their owners compared to dogs without a chip. Microchipped cats, something we don’t often think of as an option, are a staggering 21-times more likely to find their way home from a shelter.
Microchipping is the only permanent form of identification and having up to date information in your pet's microchip registry, along with an ID tag and collar, is the best way for you as an owner to help your dog or cat find its way back to you should they ever lose their way.
To help with confusion around how and when to microchip pets, here are six easy-to-follow steps to consider:
1. Scan and survey
Check to see if your pet is already microchipped. You can do this for free at a veterinary office or animal shelter. Make sure the person scanning your pet is using a universal scanner (one that reads all chip frequencies), so the chip isn't missed.
2. Do the background check
If a chip is detected, copy down the number and look it up at petmicrochiplookup.org to get contact info for the chip’s registry. Don't worry which company sold the chip; you can always register it for free at www.found.org.
3. Make the call
If a chip is not detected, go ahead and get your pet microchipped. You can do this at your veterinary office and some pet supply retailers for a small fee. Make sure to get a copy of your pet's microchip paperwork, which contains your pet's unique microchip number. Think of this number like a social security number. Keep it in a safe place so you can find it again if you need it.
4. Register your pet
Most importantly, register your pet's microchip number as soon as possible. An unregistered chip is as useless as no chip at all. Find a free lifetime registry so you don’t have to worry about your subscription ending and your information expiring. Remember, your pet's microchip number is very similar to your social security number—it has to correlate with information in a database to be useful. The database in this instance is a chip registry, where you will enter your contact information under your pet's unique microchip number. This way, if your pet is lost without external ID, he can be scanned at a vet clinic or shelter and traced back to you as guardian.
5. Stay committed
Remember to update your contact information in the chip registry every time you move or change your phone number. This is why you should keep your pet's microchip paperwork in a safe place you'll remember.
6. Grab some dog tags
Having your pet microchipped is just one step in keeping your pet safe. The other step is keeping an external ID on your pet at all times. If your pet escapes your care, the first place a good samaritan will look is on your pet's collar. Make sure your pet's tag is up to date with your current phone number. Make sure if you move you update it right away. You don't even have to get fancy with this. A fabric collar with your phone number written on it in Sharpie will do in a pinch.