Microchip: Your Pet's Best Chance for Finding Home Again
Flickr User tbone_sandwich
As a 31-year-old female with a busy life in New York, living with parents has its benefits--delicious meals on the table when I return from work, extra cash for pooch pampering, and instant loving pet sitters. It also has its downside. When I wanted to get Indu microchipped, everyone decided to chime in.
“Where is she ever going to go anyway? She doesn’t even leave the yard with the gate wide open,” said my mom.
“But what if she runs after a squirrel or the postman and manages to lose her collar?” I countered. It is not too far-fetched, given that I had a scare before.
I still remember the summer evening I was walking home from the train. My brother was running towards me with an empty leash in his hand. “Indu ran away!!” he cried out, catching his breath. My ear-piercing screams shook the sidewalk. Indu was only six months at the time. She was the size of a rabbit, barely understanding commands. I shouted her name louder than a fire engine. She is my first and only pet and I felt like I let her down with my promise to care for her life. I prayed that she didn’t run into oncoming traffic.
Within a half hour of searching, I received a call from a neighbor who found Indu in his backyard and called me using the number on her tag.
I wonder what would have happened if she lost the collar. The day after this incident, a friend suggested that I get Indu equipped with a microchip.
Millions of dogs become lost every year, and sadly most of them never make it back home. Microchips have helped reunite more than 600,000 pets with their owners. Still, it wouldn’t be for another year and half before I got it for my furry baby. I was nervous for Indu, that she might feel pain, or that I had no right to insert a physical object in her skin, or that I’d never have the need for it (like my mom had suggested).
I asked my friend Dorri Olds about whether her dog is microchipped. “Buddy has a chip. It's so worth it, just in case. You've seen him, it's not like it got in the way of his happiness or anything.” Her words were encouraging, but I still needed convincing.
During a visit with Dr. Jiu Jia Wen at the Hampton veterinary hospital a few months ago, I inquired him about it. He highly recommended it, saying, “A lot of pets are found that way. In our practice, more than a dozen pets a year find home because of the chips.
But when the time came to actually get it done, I balked. I looked at the long hypodermic needle from which the chip is inserted and couldn’t imagine my pup being able to handle it. I told the front desk that I’d get it done the next time I visited.
The months that followed were filled with guilt, especially when I traveled. I couldn’t bear the thought of something happening to my buddy, and worse was the guilt I’d experience for not getting her chipped.
Microchip Health Problem Allegation
The more I researched, the more I felt comfortable with the idea. Then I learned about a lawsuit that was recently filed against the maker of the HomeAgain pet microchip company alleging that the chip induced a cancerous tumor in a cat.
During my next visit to the animal hospital, I inquired Dr. Wen about the allegations.
“I have been using the microchip for more than 15 years, and I have not seen any cancer case related to the chip yet,” he said reassuring me that Indu would be just fine.
As the vet technicians held my dog, I sat in front of her, staring into her sky blue eyes and prepared to comfort her. I was told to pat her forehead just as the moment the needle went into the skin between her shoulder blades. The rice grain sized electronic chip enclosed in a tiny glass cylinder was eased into her skin with the injection. I braced myself, fully expecting Indu to bark, or at the very least wince. She did neither. The chip was in her skin in less than three seconds. I was the one shocked. Indu acted as if a mosquito bit her. I was told that the area where it was placed might be sore for a day or so, akin to the soreness one would feel after getting an ear piercing.
Indu was her normal playful self when we got home. My folks jokingly teased her about what “mommy did to her”. But that night, as she cozied up to me on the couch, I knew I did the right thing. At least for my peace of mind.
Things You Should Know about Microchipping Your Pet
- Microchip is a permanent pet ID that will not wear out
- No anesthetic and no surgery is required, and the chip does not hurt your pet
- Avoid exercise for your pet for 24 hours after the implantation
- Microchip is activated by the radio waves put out by the scanner that is passed over the area. The chip transmits the ID number to the scanner, which displays it on the screen.
- Over 50,000 animal clinics and shelters across the country are equipped with scanners.
- Keep the ID number handy and your personal information up to date.
- If the hospital/shelter has not registered the ID in a national pet recovery database such as HomeAgain, please do so on your own.
- Average cost to have a microchip implanted is $45 (if you are adopting or getting the pet from a breeder, they will do it free of charge). There is an annual fee of $16.99 for your pet's HomeAgain membership.
- Trained professionals are ready to answer to any pet emergencies when you sign up with HomeAgain.
What do you think about microchipping your pet? Did you have anxieties or fears about doing it first? Did you ultimately decide to follow through? Share your thoughts in a comment.