Microchip Your Pets

Event Date:

Did you know that a device the size of a long grain of rice could help get your pet home to you if she were ever lost?

That’s right; getting your pet microchipped, and keeping your information on the microchip up to date, exponentially increases her chance of making it safely back home to you.

To people who work in animal sheltering, this fact is obvious. But many pet owners still don’t know the huge impact that a tiny piece of technology could have on their lives. Pet microchipping is a practice that started in the late 1980s, but in 2021 shelters all over the country are still taking in millions of stray pets every year who don’t have microchips.

Many owners think that their pet would never get lost, or that if she did she would come home on her own, that they would find her quickly, or that other measures taken (like a name tag on the collar) would be sufficient. The fact is that 1 in 3 pets will be reported as lost at some point in their life, with only about 80 percent of those making their way home. When that statistic becomes your own pet, it’s scary.

We always recommend keeping a collar with identification on your pet as well, but this is just one measure to take to make sure your baby can get home to you. Collars can come off, not all pets wear their collars all the time, maybe you change your phone number but don’t update your pet’s tag, or how many of you have seen your dog get ‘zoomies’ after bath time? I myself have had a dog take off running after bath time -- collar laying on the bathroom counter to be put back on when he dried -- and he was half a mile away before my out-of-shape self could catch up with him. A microchip is a reliable back up, so that if your pet is lost and gets picked up by a good samaritan or an animal services officer, a vet or shelter can scan your pet for their microchip and know within minutes how to get in touch with you -- with or without a collar. What pet parent wouldn’t want that kind of peace of mind?

Here’s how microchipping works:

  1. A veterinarian implants the microchip under your pet’s skin.
  2. You or your veterinarian (or shelter) register your pet’s microchip -- always be sure to ask your veterinarian or shelter representative how to register and update your information, as different microchip companies have different policies!
  3. Make sure that your information on your microchip is correct and up-to-date. Any time you change your phone number or address, check in with your microchip company to make sure they have the most up-to-date information.
  4. Make sure that you include emergency contact information that belongs to someone different than yourself! If your pet gets out and you’re unavailable to take a phone call, maybe you’re traveling abroad, or if you forget to update your phone number (oops!), your emergency contact can be contacted as well. Spouses, family members, and close friends all make great emergency contacts. Be sure to let your emergency contact know that you’ve entrusted them to be contacted in the event that your pet goes missing!
  5. Make sure to keep your pet’s microchip ID and company information somewhere safe (I keep mine in our safe with our family’s important documents). This will help if your pet ever gets lost so you can notify your chip company, and also provide the microchip number to your local shelter and animal control agency. This makes getting ahold of you quicker if your pet is picked up!
  6. If your pet goes missing and is found and taken to a vet’s office or an animal shelter, or is picked up by animal services, they will be scanned for a microchip! The microchip scanner will show your pet’s unique microchip ID number, the organization with your pet will reach out to the appropriate microchip company to get your contact information, and then will reach out to you and your emergency contact via the information provided.

Please note that a microchip is NOT a GPS or tracking device. It is simply a device that holds information. You can not track your pet’s location via their microchip.

If you haven’t been convinced yet that your pet needs a microchip, here are some eye-opening study results that might help sway you. Overall in the United States, stray dogs entering an animal shelter have only a 22 percent likelihood of being reunited with their families. That statistic jumps dramatically for dogs with microchips -- over 52 percent of dogs with microchips are reunited with their owners.

The rates for cats returning home is even more drastic. Only 2 percent of stray cats entering animal shelters in the US are reunited with their owners. While an amazing 38 percent of cats with microchips are able to be reunited with their owners.

And as a reminder to always keep your pet’s microchip information up to date -- only 58 percent of microchipped pets entering animal shelters had up-to-date information on their microchips. If this percentage were higher, we would expect to see even higher percentages of microchipped pets going home!

Every dog and cat adopted from HSTC has a microchip, and as of this past year, all adoptable rabbits that are spayed/neutered at HSTC are also microchipped.

If you have a pet that isn’t microchipped, we can help! We offer microchipping appointments that can be booked by calling us at 772-223-8822. The cost is $20 for a dog or cat that is already spayed or neutered, or $40 for a dog that is not spayed or neutered. We also offer discounted microchip clinics periodically throughout the year, so be sure to watch our Facebook page or visit our website at www.hstc1.org/Public for more information!