Sunday, 21 August 2011

Microchipping Your Pet

With the frightening reality of pet theft on the rise and animals getting lost, is microchipping your pet the best option? You could be out in the park, distracted for a moment and your dog is gone. What if your pet escaped out the back garden and got lost? What if your dog collar became loose? These and many other situations are faced by pet owners every day. If stray animals are rescued but aren't reclaimed, then sadly they are euthanized. Microchipping is a quick and painless procedure, no anaesthetic is required and it lasts up to 75 years. The microchip is no bigger than a grain of rice and is usually injected between the shoulder blades very close to the surface. The microchip contains a memory circuit which retains your pets individual identification number, which is then registered. A pet microchip has radio frequency identification, (RFID) so when the animal is scanned the chip then becomes active supplying the data about the individual pet. This type of chip is called a 'passive RFID tag' because it lies dormant until scanned. So there is no battery or internal power source inside your pet.

Unlike a tag or collar, once a chip has been implanted it can't be dislodged. Also if your pet is stolen a chip can help with disputes as to who is the real owner. In the U.K the government is considering if it's worth introducing compulsory microchipping. Battersea Dogs and Cats home, is in principle, supporting the idea as they feel it will encourage responsibility in animal owners and help to reunite owners and pets. In 2010 they took in just over 4000 stray dogs and only 32% were microchipped. How would you get your pet back if they weren't chipped? Collars and tags come off where as a microchipped pet is traceable for life.

There is also the benefit of keeping bad breeders in line if microchipping becomes compulsory. If people are held to account for the standard of animal they produce then they will hopefully be more responsible. The financial strain on animal shelters would also be lessened, as stray pets would be immediately identified and owners notified. The cost of having to house, feed and maybe euthanize an animal is far more expensive than having the quick simple procedure of chipping done.

If you are a cat owner then there is also the plus side of a microchip cat flap. We all know about the naughty neighbourhood cats that sneak in when you're not looking. They'll help themselves to your pets food, maybe have a sneaky catnap on your new, expensive bed quilt and perhaps use your cats cat tray for themselves. There is also the added treat of them all spraying their messages around your house attracting other cats as well. A lot of the microchip cat flaps work by setting themselves to only allow your cat in as it will automatically pick up the first microchipped pet through. So make sure when setting it, that your cat is the first to go through.

Whatever your opinion on microchipping is, something has to change. Rescue centres are sadly sometimes the last place a lost pet will call home.

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