The high-tech solution to dog identification is a computer microchip. About the size of a grain of rice, the microchip contains a coded number and is encased in a biologically inert substance so it can remain under the dog's skin for his lifetime. A microchip cannot be lost, changed, or removed.
A microchip is usually implanted in the loose skin between a dog's shoulders. Occasionally, microchips migrate; for this reason, some owners tattoo their dogs with a capital "T" within a circle to indicate that the dog has been microchipped. Then, even if the microchip migrates and is not instantly detectable, the shelter will continue to search for the implant.
Microchips should be implanted by licensed veterinarians. The procedure appears to be virtually painless -- comparable to being vaccinated -- and puppies as young as 8 weeks can be implanted. No maintenance is needed, and the microchip should last for 25 years.
Ask your vet, breeder, or local humane society to recommend a microchip registry. Like tattoo registries, each microchip registry has its own coding system, and the fees vary.
Veterinarians and shelters use hand-held scanners to detect the microchip and read the code. Then the appropriate registry is contacted and the owner notified. Though several companies produce the microchips, universal scanners can read all microchips.
- The person who finds the dog may not know about microchips or where to take a dog to be scanned. (You should take a lost dog to a veterinarian or a shelter to be scanned.)
- When you move, you must remember to update your contact information with the registry.
- Because it is hidden, a microchip is not the most effective ID method if used alone. Use in conjunction with collars and tags and/or tattooing to provide the most comprehensive protection.
Continued on page 4: Helpful Hints to Avoid Lost Pets