According to Dr. Jennifer Welser, BluePearl’s chief medical officer, loose or unclaimed pets are frequently brought to BluePearl hospitals by good Samaritans or law enforcement officers. Some locations see five or more strays each week.
The chances of those pets being successfully reunited with their owners depends largely on whether they have a microchip and if the chip is properly registered.
“There are few things more heartbreaking than losing a beloved pet,” said Welser. “Getting your pet microchipped – and keeping the registration information up-to-date – is one of the quickest and easiest steps you can take to ensure your pet’s safety.”
Microchipping is also an important safeguard against pet theft, which is on the rise in the United States. More than 637 dogs were stolen in 2014, a 4.5 increase from the previous year, according to the American Kennel Club’s national pet theft database.
National Check the Chip Day is August 15, and was created by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as a reminder to pet owners to check and update microchip registration information.
Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are encoded with a unique ID number assigned to each pet. The chips are injected in the loose skin between a pet’s shoulder blades.
If your pet does not have a microchip, ask your family veterinarian to implant one. To register the chip, complete the paperwork that comes with it and send it to the registry. You may also be able to complete this step online, depending on the manufacturer.
You can check if the chip’s information is outdated by contacting the manufacturer or using online tools, such as the one provided by the AAHA at petmicrochiplookup.org.
If you don’t remember your chip number or manufacturer, have it scanned by your family veterinarian.