By Aimee Gilbreath, Found Animals Executive Director
If you’re still trying to think of a New Year’s resolution, here’s one for you pet owners: Resolve to keep your beloved pet safe this year through microchipping. Why? The stats are astonishing. Microchipped dogs are 2.4 times more likely to make it out of a shelter and back home, and chipped cats are a whopping 21.4 times more likely to make it home!
To help you utilize your pet’s microchip to its fullest potential in 2015, we’ve worked out five “golden rules” of microchips. These tips will help you reconnect with your pets if they are ever lost, and will make you feel good about keeping your New Year’s resolution (for once)!
1. If your pet isn’t chipped yet, ask your vet to implant an ISO standard chip. There are currently three different radio frequencies for microchips in the U.S., and the ISO standard chip (134.2 kHz) is the frequency that most parts of the world are already using. Most U.S. suppliers now also provide ISO standard microchips. This chip type will allow you to travel abroad with your pet without any additional restrictions or requirements.
2. Register your pet’s microchip number in a free database. A microchip contains a unique 9, 10, or 15-digit number (think of it as your pet’s social security number). None of your contact info is on the chip! It’s also not a GPS, so it cannot be used to “track” your pet’s location. In order for the microchip to work, it must be registered in a registry like the free Found Animals Registry, www.found.org.
3. Keep the registration updated if you ever change your contact information. If you move to a different state or get a new phone number, it’s important to remember to make this change in your pet’s microchip registration. Otherwise, the outdated information will make it hard for a shelter to track you down, and it may delay or prevent your pet’s return home.
4. Make sure your local shelters and vets are using universal scanners. A universal scanner can pick up all three frequencies of microchips (125, 128, and 134.2), covering all the different brands of chips. Unfortunately, many facilities are still unknowingly using non-universal scanners, which means they are missing chips and therefore unable to reunite lost pets with their families. Pet owners can make a difference by asking their local shelters and vets to contact their scanner providers or test their scanners.
5. Give your pet a collar and a tag with up-to-date phone numbers on it. The quickest way for your lost pet to get home is with a visible collar tag. This tag should have the pet’s name and your phone number on it. An external ID tag is easy for people to notice and shows them how to contact you. Of course, a tag can still fall off or be damaged, so if you pair an external tag with permanent microchip ID, your pet will have two solid layers of protection to get him home.
By following these five golden rules, you’ll give your furry companions the best chance of coming home safely if they wind up lost in 2015. Every lost pet deserves to be found!