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IDs for pets

SUMMIT COUNTY – It may seem a bit like a Big Brother tactic, but microchipping is the most reliable way to identify your pet in case of separation.

None of us plans to lose our pets, but it happens all too often. Even indoor cats sneak outside and get lost or picked up. Without some sort of identification, animal shelters struggle to reunite pets with their owners.

Simply putting a collar and a tag on your pet isn’t always enough, said Lesley Craig, Summit County Animal Shelter’s lead animal control officer. Collars can fall off or can be taken off in the unfortunate event that someone steals your pet.



A microchip is permanent and a more reliable, high-tech method of tattooing (which can become unreadable), said Gretchen Norton, doctor of veterinary medicine at Breckenridge Animal Clinic.

Animal experts recommend that all pet owners get their animals microchipped – not as a substitute for a collar and tag, but as a backup. Microchips aren’t readable without a scanner. Your average Good Samaritan still needs a collar and tag to know whether an animal is lost and, hopefully, to bring it back home. Shelter staff uses a scanner to determine whether an animal has a microchip. If the scanner beeps, they can call Avid or Home Again – 24 hours a day – to get the owner’s contact information.



This is especially crucial in an emergency, as veterinarians can do no more than stabilize an animal patient without the owner’s approval, Craig said.

“That can be really important when you only have a few minutes,” she said.

Microchips also are very helpful when pets are lost as you travel, Norton said. Instead of having to call all the shelters where you traveled, they can call you.

“The majority of the time, pets that come in with microchips are reunited with their owners,” said Kristina Vourax, communications manager for the Dumb Friends League, which receives more than 25,000 lost or abandoned pets each year in the Denver area.

Otherwise, the number of lost pets returned to their owners is low.

As with anything, however, microchips are only as successful as the information they provide. Many owners forget to update the information when they move.

“(The microchip) is really only as good as the information in the system,” Vourax said.

Otherwise, there aren’t any downfalls to microchips, animal experts say. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is typically injected between the animal’s shoulder blades. As with any injection, some animals yelp and others don’t make much of a fuss.

In Summit County, microchip implants cost $35 to $50. The cost of implants is included in all adoptions from the Summit County Animal Shelter and the Dumb Friends League.

– Lu Snyder

Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or lsnyder@summitdaily.com.


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