How Microchips Save Lives
The single most important thing you can do to protect your animal from theft or loss is to make sure that your animal has identification on at ALL times. Although collars with ID tags and licenses are very important (and often required by law), they can fall off or intentionally be removed if your animal is stolen or becomes lost. Don’t wait until it’s too late!
Developed by a veterinarian, the AVID® and HomeAgainTM microchips are safe, permanent and take only seconds to administer. The tiny injectable “chip” contains a one-of-a-kind identification number and is recognized worldwide. A special scanner is used to read the microchip through the skin of the animal. The animal feels nothing as the chip’s number quickly appears in the scanner’s viewing window. With a phone call, the registered chip can be traced back to the purchaser if necessary.
Microchips are a permanent, positive form of identification that cannot be intentionally removed or lost. They are one of the safest, simplest and least expensive ways to protect your companion animal. It’s no wonder the animal welfare and veterinary communities are touting microchips as the wave of the future!
A microchip is a tiny computer chip programmed with an identification number, comprised of biocompatible material. The device is approximately the size of a grain of rice and small enough to fit inside a hypodermic needle. The chip is simply injected under the animal’s skin, often in the scruff of the neck, where it stays safely lodged for the rest of the animal’s life. Animals of any age can be injected with microchips, although some veterinarians prefer to wait until cats are six months of age.
The computer memory in the microchip contains a unique identification number. No two animals are ever assigned the same number. A radio signal is used to read the number with a scanner through the skin of the animal. Most shelters and veterinary offices have scanners in their offices and use them regularly.
When a shelter staff member or veterinarian discovers an animal with a microchip and identification number, he or she immediately contacts the microchip company. A telephone representative for the microchip company will access a database and provide the caller with the animal guardian’s contact information. If the animal is not registered on the microchip company’s national database, the name and number of the veterinarian or shelter who installed the microchip will be provided. Veterinarians and shelters maintain their own separate databases that are often used in conjunction with the microchip company’s national database or registry.
How Much Does A Microchip Cost?
Microchips generally cost around $40. Although veterinarians only charge approximately $25 to implant the microchip and register on their database, it costs $15 extra to register on the microchip company’s national database. Some people balk at the extra $15 charge, but we highly recommend signing up on the national registry. This can significantly increase the chances that your lost animal will be reunited with you, should he or she become lost. The national registry is staffed around the clock, while vets and shelters are usually not open 24 hours a day.
The chips most commonly used in the United States companion animal industry are AVID® and HomeAgainTM. Shelters know and trust these microchip companies to provide fast recovery services for lost pets. In the mid 90’s, shelter groups asked microchip companies to provide shelters with a “universal” scanner that could read both chips. Since then, rescue groups, shelters and humane societies can use a single scanner to detect any 125 kHz microchip.
United Hope for Animals fostered dogs are micro-chipped. We strongly suggest that you also microchip your current pets. When you adopt one of our dogs your dog’s foster person will guide your through the microchip process and answer any questions that you might have.
Photos by: Adam Lisagor