These days, most people consider their pets to be members of the family. They can’t imagine a scenario in which they would be separated from them and certainly would never expect them to end up in a shelter. This is the primary reason why people do not have their pets microchipped.

Unfortunately, as many of us learned this hurricane season, sometimes the unexpected happens.

Many pets are displaced during natural disasters and some of them never make it back to their rightful owners. Other pets escape after house fires or car accidents, during storms or fireworks, or when house guests unintentionally leave a door open.

The good news is that your pet is much more likely to be returned home quickly if a microchip has been implanted. All veterinary hospitals and animal shelters are equipped with scanners that can retrieve a unique series of numbers simply by waving the scanner over the pet. If the chip has been properly registered, a phone call can locate the owner within minutes!

A common concern is that personal information will be accessible to everyone just because your pet has a microchip. This is not true- even if the chip is registered by a shelter or vet clinic, owners decide exactly which information (address, telephone number, email address, etc) is connected to the microchip number. Only the company that registers the chip will have the information and it is not used or shared for any purpose other than to reunite pets with families.

If the chip is never registered, the numbers aren’t linked to any information at all! Be sure to complete this essential step- there is nothing worse than finding a chip number in a stray pet and then discovering that the owner never completed registration.

You can have a chip implanted at any veterinary hospital and most shelters. Microchipping is affordable and minimally invasive- pets usually do not react at all to implantation. The chip itself is approximately the size of a grain of rice and implantation is only slightly more painful than a routine vaccination.

Microchipping pets (and registering the chip!) is a safe, simple way to protect them for a lifetime. Please consider taking this important step to make sure your pets return home safely if they are ever lost. No one ever plans for their pets to leave their side but accidents and emergencies can happen to anyone! – Written by: Dr. Elizabeth Chosa