Microchips can help save lost pets | SummitDaily.com

Microchips can help save lost pets

JULIE SUTORsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk With an area of fur shaved just below the scruff of the neck - an area about the size of a quarter - animal shelter employee Traci Bratton injects a micro-chip into Aspen with a syringe.

SUMMIT COUNTY – Coming home to an empty house can be a pet-owner’s worst nightmare. But modern technology can sometimes come to the rescue.In recent years, animal owners across the country have been able to identify their pets with microchips. Each chip contains a serial number that links to the owner’s contact information in a national database.”This is absolutely the best process whereby an animal can be reunited with its owner,” said Summit County Animal Shelter (SCAS) director Nancy Ring. “It can prevent euthanasia or adoption of an animal that is believed to be unwanted, but is actually lost.”SCAS finds owners of lost animals through microchips about once a month.

“The advantage is that you can’t lose the microchip. Odds are, the chip will outlast the life of the animal,” Ring said.Ring said she expects to see microchips within the next 10 years that can coordinate with global positioning systems (GPS) and store medical information.Microchip implantation is a minor procedure and costs about $40. Animal-care professionals can insert the rice-grain-size chip just under an animal’s skin with a large-gauge needle.”The chips are inserted near the back of the neck right above the shoulder blade. It’s kind of like a bug bite for the animal at first, but they don’t continually notice it,” Ring said.Unfortunately, a new brand of microchips introduced in late 2003 is far less effective in reuniting lost pets with their owners.

Banfield, The Pet Hospital recently began implanting microchips which cannot be read by scanners now in use by most veterinarians and animal shelters. The new chips require a different scanner specific to the signal frequency they emit.”Though Banfield has been stating publicly that it is making scanners available to shelters across the country, the process is moving at a very slow pace,” read a statement issued last week by the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association. “In the meantime, animals are at risk, and owners may have a false sense of security thinking their animals are safe.”SCAS has scanners that read the two other brands of pet microchips on the market, but does not have a scanner that reads the Banfield chips.”There really is no microchip manufacturer that has provided a scanner that can detect all available microchips,” Ring said. “The technology is there, but they want to do their own thing for profit.”Microchips implanted in 2003 or earlier are generally readable by most shelters, but the only way pet owners can find out for sure is by calling their local facility.

If a pet owner finds that his or her animal’s chip cannot be read by a local shelter, he or she can call the microchip manufacturer and ask that it send at least one scanner to the facility, free of charge.Even with microchips, Ring advocates that pet owners keep traditional identification tags current.”That can help bring an animal back to you more quickly than anything else,” she said.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203 or jsutor@summitdaily.com.

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