August 14, 2013 | Volume 100 / Number 33

Chipping In: Stray Pets To Be Scanned For Microchips

Glasgow PD Acquires Microchip Reader

The police, the animal pound and the vets in Glasgow are all on the same page now, recommending microchipping pets so they can be identified and returned if they get lost.

Police Chief Bruce Barstad recently displayed the microchip reader the department just acquired for the pound. Any stray pet will now be scanned immediately, and if it has been chipped, the owner can be identified and called to take their pet home.

He tested it on the city clerk’s cat. Stacey Amundson had the cat chipped six years ago in Ohio. The reader worked perfectly, even on the older chip, putting out up-to-date contact information so Amundson could be reached.

Collars and tags are good ways to ID a dog, but a collar can be lost – and cats notoriously hate collars.

The vets in Glasgow are enthusiastic about chipping, which is quick and practically painless. They use the latest design, a mini chip that is smaller than the earlier generation, more user friendly for cats and small breeds of dogs. The chip, an identifying integrated circuit about the size of a grain of rice, is injected under the skin between the pet’s shoulder blades.

The animal and the owner are then registered, with contact information.

There are a number of companies making microchips, but the chip readers can read all of them and they all bank their information in a central database. A chip reader displays an ID number that belongs exclusively to that animal. The number is code for the company name, the vet clinic that inserted the chip and the individual animal. If the owner moves or transfers the animal to someone else, the contact information can be updated. Even if a chip company went out of business, the information would still be in the national database.

Shirley Seifert at the Glasgow Veterinary Clinic said they have only been chipping for a couple of weeks but word is going around and people are asking about it. Chips are required for taking pets to Hawaii and overseas, she said.

Even horses can have a chip put in their neck. It lasts longer than a tattoo, which may become illegible.

“The implant is quick,” said Chase McAllister at the Valley Vet Clinic. “It takes about 15 minutes total for the implant and the registration.”

He said it is a “for-sure way to prove ownership,” like branding.

The cost of microchipping varies among vets, but it is in the $40 to $45 range.

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