Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lost and Found

Did you know?
As an animal ER we often have "good samaritans" bring hurt animals to us for care. Of course, besides taking care of their physical wounds or illness we also would love to reconnect the four-legged animal with their two legged human. In our hospital we keep an iMAX Black Label International Universal microchip reader - specially designed to read any of the microchips. Any stray dog or cat brought to our hospital gets scanned to see if we can match the pet with an owner. Being in an animal welfare profession we of course love it when we have a happy ending, sadly that is not always the case. The most frustrating is when there is a readable chip, but the client has forgotten to update their information after a move or phone # change.

Let me tell you why.
Animal identification systems are made up of three parts:

1. The microchip - a tiny rice sized component that is uniquely identified with a number that matches the animal with your personal information. The microchip is inserted under the skin just over the shoulder blade by your veterinarian or at your local shelter.
2. The reader - there are various readers that are either specific to the chip manufacturer and can read only that chip or universal readers that can read multiple manufacturer chips.
3. The database - there must be a repository of all the pets and their respective owners that shelters, animal control agencies, or veterinarians can access to attempt to reconnect you and your pet.

As you can see, there are multiple areas of potential breakdown in the process. The microchip could migrate to an area of the body that is unexpected and get missed when scanning. The reader might not read the type of microchip that has been inserted into your animal; or your information stored in the database is out of date and there is no way to reach you.

So, you ask, why microchip? Because that would be the perfect storm. The majority of the time when a microchip is present there is a happy reunion. Isn't that the way you want your movie script written?

A checklist of reminders:
- have your family veterinarian scan for the chip occasionally to ensure it hasn't migrated and the id # is readable
- whenever your personal information changes, update the microchip directory

So, if you have microchipped your animal and your pet squeezes through the fence, gets found by a "good samaritan" and is brought to our ER then we know who to call to return "Lucky" to his rightful owner.

If you haven't, here are some microchip identification systems for you to consider:

Bayer resQ Microchip Identification System
AVID - American Veterinary Identification Devices
AKC Companion Animal Recovery
HomeAgain Pet Recovery and Identification System
PetLink International Pet Directory

The moral of the script a happy ending to get your lost pet found.

No comments: