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The Importance of Collars and Microchipping: Why Every Pet Needs One

No pet owner ever wants to even contemplate what it would be like to have a lost pet, let alone actually experience it. Whether it is just for a few hours or a few days or weeks, the loss of a pet can be traumatic and even tragic, and it can happen at any time, for any number of reasons.

Losing a Pet

The reason why a pet owner loses their pet, for any length of time, can vary widely. Some unexpected change in the home may have frightened a pet away from the home, and they may have been unable to make their way back on their own. Curiosity may have driven a pet to explore some new area and they may have become lost. They may have become ill or injured, or they may be trapped somewhere. Whatever the reason, the pet is incapable of easily making it home on their own and needs help. But humans who seek to help the pet cannot do so without receiving some help of their own–in the form of pet and owner identification.

Collars and Microchips

On their own, collars can be an indication that a pet has a home, but it does not help the pet get back to their owner. An ID tag on the collar is therefore critical in helping someone locate and contact the pet’s owner, and this is the route that many pet owners choose to take. However, the fact is that a collar and ID tag are not a guaranteed ticket home, primarily because they can break or fall off. In fact some collars are actually designed to break away when pulled on so that the animal’s life does not become threatened when he is entangled in something.

But then when a collar does break or fall off, the pet becomes one of the countless and unidentified lost strays that are either wandering around or caught and placed in animal shelters. This is why a microchip is absolutely essential.

Microchips are implantable computer chips that are about the size of a grain of rice, and that are injected just below a pet’s skin, usually near their shoulders. The procedure to implant a microchip is quite simple and very similar to the procedure for giving routine vaccinations, and they are no less beneficial to your pet. The microchip is encoded with an identification number that is picked up by a radio signal sent from a handheld scanner. As soon as the unique identification number has been received, it can be looked up to find the owner’s contact information (provided the owner has kept the microchip registered and updated).

Many animal shelters and veterinarian offices carry microchip scanners simply because they are so incredibly useful in helping to identify lost pets and reunite them with their owners. In fact, studies have indicated that microchipped pets are far more likely to be reunited with their owners than non-microchipped pets. In 2009, a research study led by Linda Lord, DVM, PhD at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine indicated that cats with microchips were twenty times more likely to be returned to their homes than cats without microchips, and dogs with microchips were two and a half times more likely to be returned to their homes than dogs without microchips.

An important point to consider is that not all lost pets are found in the towns or cities where they were lost. This can make it especially difficult to reunite a lost pet with their owner if they have no identification on them. However, microchips that are registered and kept up-to-date use nationwide registries, allowing individuals to contact the owners no matter where they are. One young cat was discovered twenty-three hundred miles away from her home, and reunited with her owner thanks to her microchip. Needless to say, this proves that microchips are highly valuable tools in maintaining a pet’s safety.

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