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How It’s Done: Pet Microchips

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY—For many, a family pet can become just a much a part of the family as little Johnny. With this level of care in mind, several companies now manufacture microchips that enable pet owners to keep up with their furry counterparts even if they’ve wondered hundreds of miles away.

But how does the microchip system really work?  

For starters, the installation of a microchip doesn’t require any surgery and usually doesn’t even require sedation. Once the chip is ready, it is inserted deep under the skin between the shoulder blades with a larger sized needle.

The reason microchips are effective, is because each one has a unique number. When a handheld scanner—which is calibrated for the specific brand of chip—is moved over the body of the animal, the scanner is able to read the respective number on the microchip. From there, the microchip company is contacted and the number is given to an operator. The operator is then able to look in their database for the owner’s information. Most shelters and humane society's now have scanners and use them on all animals that come in their doors.

In addition, and in contrast to widespread belief, microchips are relatively inexpensive. Though the chip insertion fees vary, most clinics or shelters charge between 30 and 40 dollars. The microchip number then needs to be registered with the microchip company. The registration fee is usually between 15 and 20 dollars. However, the registration fee is generally a onetime fee unless information needs to be changed or updated.

The most widely used microchip companies in the US are currently Avid and HomeAgain. Most veterinarians carry one or the other, but usually do not carry both. Yet local animal shelters are generally able to scan for both chips. Basically, if they scan an animal with an AVID scanner and a HomeAgain chip has been inserted in the animal, the scanner will alert the handler to the fact that a chip is present regardless of brand.

In particular, microchips have become more important in cases where an animal is stolen and you need a means to positively identify the pet. Furthermore, they sometimes prove to be helpful in cases where a collar has broken away and the shelter has picked up the animal.

Though collars, ID tags, and rabbies tags stand as the primary means to getting your pet back when they are lost, a microchip not much bigger than a piece of rice sure doesn’t hinder the process.

Luke Short
Information provided by www.suite101.com

 

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Posted on 2/2/14
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