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WHY MICROCHIP?

When Cara Anderson, of Lawndale, California, found a scruffy little dog hiding in the crawl space under her house, she was unsure what to do.

"He was either cold or scared, I couldn't tell what the shaking was from, but he was definitely hungry!" she said, saying that she gave him some leftover hamburger from her kitchen that he gobbled right down. "I was hoping he had a collar, or something to identify him, but he didn't. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do."

Thankfully for this little dog, Cara cared enough to take him around to her neighbors to see if any of them knew who he belonged to. They didn't, but one of her neighbors, one who had two dogs of her own, suggested she take him to a local vet to have him scanned for a microchip. "I didn't know what she was talking about, really, but she explained to me that some pets have chips with their owner's contact information on them."

Have you ever found a lost cat or dog with no ID and wished that they could just tell you where they live? While that technology isn't quite here yet, we do have something that comes very close; a pet microchip. This small device (about the size of a grain of rice) is implanted under the skin of your pet between their shoulder blades by an animal healthcare professional. While it's not a GPS, it does carry a small amount of information on it that will enable your pet to "speak" and let you know who its owner is.

While wearing owner identification at all times (ID tag, pet license) is the first line of defense against being lost, tags and collars can come off or be removed. Considering that the most widely accepted estimates say that one in three pets gets lost within its lifetime, microchips can be the ultimate insurance for any pet who gets lost to get returned safely to his family. It is especially important when you look at the dismal statistics showing that four out of five cats, and three out of five dogs never make it out of a shelter once they are brought in.

If a pet is lost, like the dog under Cara's house, he has a much greater chance of being reunited with his family if he has a microchip. In Cara's case, she took her neighbor's advice and took him to a local animal shelter. There, the pet is scanned with a special reader that is made specifically to read a microchip embedded under the pet's skin. The reader will give the animal care worker a number from the chip that is then entered into a database of registered chips. A registered chip will tell the vet or shelter who the owner of the pet is and allow them to be reunited. If the pet's family has registered with theFound Animals Microchip Registry (which is universal for all microchip brands), the owner will get a phone call, an email, and a text within minutes of the pet being reported found, telling the owner where to go pick up their lost pet.

As was widely reported in June, Kurt Cobain's daughter, Francis Bean, lost her little black cat, and offered a $5,000 reward for his return. Not everyone has that kind of money to put up as a reward, but even if we did, the sad fact is that the vast majority of pets lost without any identification, will never be reunited with their families. It is therefore imperative that all information related to your pet's microchip is registered and updated with a registry. Keeping pet owner information current is an essential component to the successful operation of the microchip system and is the only way to ensure reunification with your pet should they become lost. An unregistered chip is the same as having no chip at all, which could potentially put your pet in peril, should he become lost.

For all the hoopla surrounding the report of Frances Bean Cobain's reward, none of the articles mentioned what you should do if you found a pet that didn't have a collar. Those of us who own pets may immediately think to take it to your vet, which is a great idea, because it can be scanned there. However, many good Samaritans who find a lost pet don't have one of their own, like Cara Anderson.

"I was so thankful my neighbor was able to give me some guidance." she says. And the best part is, after being scanned, they found that the little dog did have a microchip, and was able to be returned to his home, about a half mile away from the Anderson's home. The owners were delighted to have "Bailey" back with them again.

The Found Animal Foundation provides a free database that allows owners to easily register their pet, and update their contact information online. As noted earlier, it has several methods of owner notification if the pet is turned into a shelter or veterinarian. Additionally, it allows for emergency contacts and veterinarians to be identified and contacted if the pet is found. All of these programs were put into place to ensure your pet is returned to you should the unthinkable happen.

We encourage you to take advantage of this free Found Animals service and register your pet's microchip today.