To Chip or Not to Chip…There Really Should be No Question

As always let’s start with a tale.

Late last night we spotted a dog wandering up and down our street. He wasn’t very big, nor was he very old. In fact, he looked to be about 6 months old. At the time it was strange to find him just wandering around outside because it was about 10pm, no one was out, and because we walk Simon and Rosee every day we pretty much know all the dogs in the neighborhood, but neither Monica or I recognized this dog. Yet, here was this puppy looking for his home. It soon became obvious that he had no idea where home was and to top it all off he wasn’t wearing a collar. We figured that he hadn’t been out long because he was dry and it had been raining, and we found that he must have had his dinner because he wasn’t hungry when we offered him food. He was a really sweet dog and extremely well behaved, but already having two dogs (one of which is not exactly easily accepting of other dogs) it was hard to decide what to do with him. It’s not to say that we were going to leave him outside to wander the streets, especially because he was heading towards a busier road on the outskirts of town and would most likely be hit by a car. Nonetheless, bringing in an extra dog to our home was not exactly a scenario we were prepared for. We didn’t know if he had all of his shots, was socialized with other dogs, was house trained, etc. Yet, we couldn’t just leave him, and there was really no one to call since it was so late. Even if we could have called our local animal services I was hesitant because if he didn’t have a microchip he would become a ward of the shelter, and I didn’t want him to become another statistic. We tried looking for his owner by walking him up and down the surrounding streets for about 45 minutes, but ultimately came up empty. It seemed that this dog had appeared out of thin air, or (much worse) was dumped by his owners. Still, we tried to remain optimistic, and due to his amicable personality believed that he must have had caring owners that were missing him terribly. Unfortunately, being that it was so late at night there wasn’t much more we could do, and decided that first thing in the morning we were going to take him to our vet clinic and see if he was microchipped.

Come the next morning we took our new friend to the vet and he was scanned for a microchip. Fortunately, he had one and his owner was quickly contacted. It turned out his owner lived only a few blocks over from us and came to get him soon after he was called. After the puppy was returned to his owner it was a big relief. When we first found him outside walking around we didn’t hesitate to help, but we were afraid of what we would do with him if his owners couldn’t be found. There was no way to keep him for an extended period of time, but if it turned out he didn’t have an owner, I didn’t just want to abandon him to a shelter where he probably wouldn’t be adopted. He was just too nice of a dog and too young to end up at a shelter hoping to be adopted. Thankfully, all these worries were for naught.

This story could have turned out very differently. A family could have lost their pet, and a very sweet dog could have never been able to find his home again. Or worse, a dog could have been left to fend for himself. Now, I am extremely glad that this wasn’t the case with the puppy we found, but for many pets that somehow get out of their house or away from their owners this is what happens. I couldn’t even imagine how I would feel if my either Simon or Rosee went missing. In fact, when I was younger my family had a cat, Princess, who was an indoor/outdoor cat and I had a hard time not knowing where she went during the day. Thankfully, she mostly stayed in our front and backyard during the day and came inside at night. Still, I’m sure we all want to do what we can to ensure our pet’s remain with us, and while training your dog is a big part of it, so is microchipping. I really cannot express just how strongly I feel about microchips. Every dog should be microchipped. (Many people also microchip their cats, but I’m only talking about dogs here.) Microchips are relatively inexpensive, simple, and are a way to attach owner information to a dog in case something happens to their collar. Of course, microchips aren’t tracking systems, although I don’t understand how this hasn’t been worked out yet given that you can wear a watch with a phone, but they do a lot to help lost dogs return home. So, in case I didn’t say it enough: microchip, microchip, microchip!

Microchipping is only the beginning however. There are multiple manufacturers of microchips, and it usually depends on which type of chip your veterinarian prefers to determine which your pet receives. For instance, Simon has an AVID chip, while Rosee has a 24 PET WATCH chip. Once your dog is chipped the most important thing to remember is to register the chip. Just because your dog is microchipped doesn’t mean that the chip is activated. In order to activate the microchip it needs to be registered and there are a few options to consider. Most people probably register their dog’s microchip with the respective company. Personally, I decided not do this for Simon and Rosee because I wanted to research all my options before deciding. Unfortunately, there is no one universal database where all microchip numbers and information is stored. Rather, after a microchip is scanned the number can be looked up in the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool. Despite its name this tool is not exactly universal since it only contains information on microchips that are registered with companies that elect to participate in its program. Still, it is the main database that shelters, rescues, humane organizations, veterinarians, and pet owners use to look up microchip numbers. After a bunch of researching various registries I ultimately decided to register Simon and Rosee with Petkey. I chose Petkey because it offered the most at a reasonable price. Not only was this registry part of the AAHA program, but as part of their services if your dog goes missing you can immediately go into your profile and report them as missing. Doing so will trigger what Petkey calls an “Alert” and it will be sent to vet offices, shelters, pet businesses, and other Petkey members in your community. Plus, their customer service people have always been helpful, and, most importantly, very nice whenever I’ve called.

I know microchipping your pet may seem over the top to some. Especially is your dog is well trained to stay by your side on or off a leash, and not to run out your front door. However, sometimes accidents happen or something spooks your dog and they may run off and not remember how to get back home. I’d like to believe that if anything ever happened to my dogs they would do as the animals in Homeward Bound did and find me no matter where I was. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple or always that easy. That’s why I think there really should be no question when it comes to microchipping your dog.

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