- What is a microchip and how does it work?
A microchip is a small electronic chip (about the size of a grain of rice) that is implanted under the pet’s skin. The microchip contains a unique identification number that’s specific to your pet. The identification number is registered with the microchip's manufacturer with your contact information. It is vital to keep your contact information up to date so that you can be reached.
If your pet gets lost and is taken to Animal Care Services (ACS), another shelter, or to a vet clinic, your pet will be scanned for a microchip. Using a specialized universal microchip scanner, the microchip's unique ID number can be identified. If the pet is microchipped, we’re able to match the registered contact information to the pet and start the return-to-home process!
- Why is it important to microchip my pet?
Registered microchips, like the ones we use, give a lost pet the best chance of getting back home. Unfortunately, pets without microchips have a tougher time. That’s because collars with ID tags are great but they can fall off.
Microchips are a “one and done” way of making sure your pet always has identification. This one-time procedure provides a lifetime of ID for your pet. It gives you peace of mind that your pet can always be traced back to you if they wander off or get lost!
We recommend that your pet’s microchip information is checked every year. However, it is necessary to update their registration any time you change your home address or contact number (regardless of where your pet received its microchip).
- Where can I get a microchip for my pet?
We offer microchipping, which includes lifetime registration. Find out how to make an appointment.
Other places that offer microchip services include:
- Most private veterinary clinics
- Local community shelters, such as:
- Local spay/neuter clinics
Be sure to ask if the service includes registration. Otherwise, you will be responsible for making sure the microchip company has your contact information!
- How can a shelter or veterinarian ensure they can detect my pet's chip? I've heard microchips are sometimes not detected.
Microchips can fail and be unable to be detected but it is rare. Human error can also lead to a chip not being read as can faulty scanners, struggling, aggressive, obese animals or metal collars.
We use universal scanners that can “read” the varying frequencies emitted by the different brands of chips. We scan pets several times during their stay at the shelter, including prior to decisions about placement or euthanasia. This increases the chances a microchip is located.
- Is there a centralized number I can call or database that can list my information just in case my pet gets loose or runs away?
At this time, there is no centralized number, but there is a free online database called the Found Animals Registry. It allows owners to list each of their pet’s microchip numbers as well as personal contact information. Updates or transfer of ownership can also be registered without charge for the lifetime of the pet.
It is most important to keep your contact information up to date with the microchip manufacturer. Microchips are listed in the registries connected to the maker of that chip.
Our universal scanners display the name of the microchip's manufacturer when the microchip is detected. The chance that a microchipped pet cannot be identified from its chip number is very low, unless that microchip has not been registered or the contact info is not up to date.
- How can I check for a microchip if I found a lost pet?
First, try to check for a collar tag indicating the pet has a microchip. Most microchip companies offer collar tags with the company’s toll free help line and the pet’s exclusive ID number.
If you don’t see a tag, taking the pet to the nearest vet office or animal shelter to be scanned for a microchip is a good idea. Veterinary clinics and shelters won’t give you the owner’s personal information. But, they can call the microchip company and/or the owner to start the reunion process.
The American Animal Hospital Association created a Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool. This makes it easier for animal professionals and the public to reunite lost pets with their owners. It lists the registry help lines for microchip manufacturers throughout the world. A simple call will get a lost pet one step closer to getting home.