Microchip To Be Prepared When The Unexpected Happens

by Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia

Some have said that never before in history has humanity been so unprepared for so many of our new technologies. In a little more than one generation, what we thought were the limits of our world have been transformed into new ways of doing things. Some have been unique opportunities to directly apply some of the new technologies to solve many of our most practical problems. Most of us never expect to lose our pet or to be directly affected by a natural disaster. When the unexpected happens, the facts show that most owners were caught by surprise and were unprepared. Statistics for America show that thousands of pets are lost each year and the problem may be getting worse only because owners have not taken a simple preventative action. This article focuses on a new era of technology for our pets and a new way to ensure their future. It also explains how a tiny microchip has revolutionized the way owners can protect their pets.

Using Microchip Technology
The microchip has many uses but when the American Kennel Club adopted it for its Companion Animal Recovery (CAR) Program, pet owners were given a new way to protect their pets. This technology can be used in any species of animal at any age and it will last for their lifetime. The microchip is slightly larger than a grain of rice and is placed just under the scruff of the neck by a veterinarian. It is designed with a special anti-migration tip. The microchip is the most effective form of permanent identification. Each chip is encoded with a unique and unalterable identification code that can only be activated when read by a scanner. For these reasons, CAR recommends the HomeAgain® Microchip Identification System, which is marketed by Schering- Plough Animal Health Corporation.

Who Is Car?
The Companion Animal Recovery (CAR) Program is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) affiliate of the AKC. Established in June 1995, CAR is dedicated to providing lifetime recovery services for microchipped and tattooed animals 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year. After a pet has been microchipped or tattooed, and is enrolled in the CAR program, a record is maintained in a safe, central database in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Why Is Microchipping Recommended?
We know from experience that microchipped pets have the best chance of recovery because many shelters and veterinarians scan lost pets for microchips. They can easily be read with a handheld scanner. While tattoos are a good form of identification, lost pets are usually frightened and reluctant to let strangers search their bodies for their identification. Not only are tattoos difficult to find but many fade or blur over time. Collar tags also work but many come loose and are lost. Tags and tattoos should be considered a secondary form of identification.

The Unexpected
The problem for most owners is that they do not expect to lose their pet, and when they do, it becomes their worst nightmare. Think back to the number of signs that we have all seen in our own neighborhoods. That "Lost Pet" sign is a reminder that something went wrong. Unfortunately, thousands of unidentified pets are lost and never recovered. Some fall victim to theft, others are displaced during hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. Those "Lost Pet" signs serve as a constant reminder that someone is missing a beloved pet. Our pets deserve better. CAR'S goal is to eliminate those "Lost Pet" signs from every neighborhood by encouraging owners to ID their pets with a microchip and enroll in the CAR program.

Who Scans For Microchips?
Animal shelters, SPCAs, humane societies, animal control officers, and veterinarians are increasingly and routinely scanning found pets. In 1995, CAR established a scanner fund to help place scanners at this "front line" of defense against lost pets. Thanks to the continuing efforts of CAR, who has spent over $2 million toward this important initiative, most shelters in America now have a scanner so that every new admission can be scanned for a microchip.

What Happens When A Pet Is Found?
Hundreds of pets are lost every day. Some are picked up by shelters, others are taken to a veterinarian. Both scan pets for a microchip. A quick call to CAR'S toll-free hotline is simple and efficient. CAR Recovery Coordinators answer calls around the clock to help identify lost pets and immediately notify owners.

To date, CAR has enrolled over 1.5 million pets. What makes this program effective is the toll-free hotline and CAR Recovery Coordinators who are available 24 hours a day to expedite each pet's return home. Does it work? You bet. Over 100,000 pets have already been reunited with their owners.

The First Step
Take your pet to a veterinarian to have it microchipped. Then immediately enroll your pet in CAR'S 24-hour recovery program. The fee to enroll in CAR is $12.50, a one-time fee that protects your pet for its lifetime. Those who chip and enroll protect themselves and their pet from that worst nightmare. Remember, all breeds and species can be microchipped, and any microchip brand can be enrolled in CAR.

For more information, visit www.akccar.org
E-mail @: found@akc.org
OR Call 1.800.252.7894

Organizations interested in hosting a microchip clinic should contact:
AKC Companion Animal Recovery
5580 Centerview Drive
Suite 250
Raleigh, NC 27606- 3389
E-mail chipclinic@akc.org

CREDIT: Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia is President and C.E.O. of the AKC Companion Animal Recovery program. To find a participating HomeAgain® veterinarian near you, log on to www.akccar.org Reprinted with permission © 2002 AKC CAR