Are you checking the chip?

Ten million pets go missing each year, but only one in ten is found. Checking the chip can improve the odds.

By Tony McReynolds

More than 10 million pets are lost each year. Even more worrisome: Pet service providers lose their fair share.

Annalisa Berns, a professional pet detective and owner of Pet Search and Rescue in Southern California, estimates that 20% of her clients are pet service providers. That includes boarding facilities, pet groomers, dog walkers . . . and animal hospitals.

Berns says that if a pet service provider hasn’t lost a pet that’s been left in their care, “It’s only a matter of time.”

That’s why AAHA and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) joined together to create Check the Chip Day, celebrated annually on August 15. Microchipping pets greatly increases the chances that lost, missing, or stolen pets will be reunited with their families.

By encouraging clients to have their pets microchipped, veterinary hospitals can improve the odds that a pet who goes missing while in their care will be found. Both AAHA and the AVMA encourage veterinarians to share this flyer with their clients after checking or implanting their pets’ microchip; it provides a handy record of their pets’ microchip information.

To help hospitals promote Check the Chip Day, the AVMA also has a range of downloadable social media images, copy-and-paste social media posts, and other ready-to-use tools in its Check the Chip Day Toolkit.

Berns says hospitals can ensure that microchips are even more effective by addressing a huge misconception that many people have about microchips: Pet microchips are not GPS-tracking devices. Berns says that a large percentage of pet owners believe that they are.

“I strongly recommend microchips to all of my clients,” says Berns. She doesn’t believe in taking chances—even her own search-and-rescue dogs are microchipped. “We also have our veterinarians scan and check for the chips at appointments. Microchips can migrate, and we want to make sure the information the microchip company has is current and up to date.”

Berns stresses that regularly updating contact information on the pet’s microchip is almost as important as implanting the chip itself; if someone does find a lost pet and takes him to a veterinarian to be scanned, an outdated phone number and address aren’t going to be of much use.

AAHA’s Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool is a free, web-based resource that can assist with microchip identification. The tool helps reunite pets and owners by checking the databases of participating pet-recovery services to determine with which company the chip is registered. The tool can be used by veterinarians, animal shelters—anyone with a microchip scanner.

Berns says that veterinarians should recommend microchipping pets for their own sake as well as the pet’s: Her research shows that, on average, five to 20 pet owners walk into a typical animal hospital or shelter to report lost pets each week. And that doesn’t include people who come in because they’ve found a lost pet and want to reunite him with his owner.

So, Check the Chip.

And if, as Berns says, it’s only a matter of time until your hospital loses a pet, that’s just one more reason to check it today.

Find out how your PIMS can help clients do their part.

Photo credit: © dardespot/iStock/E+ via Getty Images



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