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Common Misconceptions Pet Owners Have About Microchips

Colonel is a Schnauzer mix who is waiting for a new home at HCWS.

Colonel is a Schnauzer mix who is waiting for a new home at HCWS.

By Amber Mahrou

Does your pet have a microchip? If your furry buddy is from Heaven Can Wait Animal Society, the answer to that question is—yes!  Heaven Can Wait microchips all of the cats and dogs that find new homes through our adoption program, but many pet parents don’t receive the full benefit that a microchip provides because of these common misconceptions.

Micro-Myth 1: There is no need to do anything with your pet’s microchip; it is already set up for use.

Actually, although the microchip is always functional, you must register the microchip with your own name and address in order for it to be helpful in reuniting you and your pet in the case that Fido or Fluffy gets lost. Don’t forget to update the contact information you have registered if you change your phone number or address! Think of the microchip as an emergency ID tag which your pet can never lose; you wouldn’t want the wrong number or address hanging around your pet’s neck in case of accidental separation, would you?  Registering your pet is done by contacting the company that provided the microchip.  The two top companies are Avid or Home Again.  Information should be provided in your adoption packet. That said—

Micro-Myth 2: Microchips replace ID tags.

Although microchips contain the same information, or more, as an ID tag, you need special equipment to scan and read it. Veterinarians and animal shelter staff can check for microchips on lost pets, but your average Good Samaritan will not be able to see that information in order to return your pet to you. An easy to read ID tag attached to your pet’s collar is a must have item. Of course, Heaven Can Wait encourages everyone who finds a lost pet to take them to a veterinarian to be scanned for a microchip. You never know when a small act like this will help reunite an adventurous pet with their original owner!

Micro-Myth 3: Microchips can act as small GPS units, allowing owners to pinpoint the location of lost pets.

Since they are essentially small, un-lose-able ID tags, microchips only provide the details that would be necessary for a pet’s recovery—the owner’s name, address, and phone number, as well as your pet’s name. There are devices for sale on the market that DO act as a small GPS unit when placed on your pet’s collar, but microchips are not such devices!

Not sure whether your pet has a microchip? You can find out by having them scanned at your veterinarian’s office.  If they do not have a chip already, you may get one for your pet as an added security measure. The chip itself is about the size of a grain of rice, which is injected under a pet’s skin around the neck. It does not hurt any more than a routine vaccination, and most pets don’t even notice when they are being given one. Microchips may not be ID replacements or GPS units, but they still reunite thousands of pets with their owners every month; register yours, and your furry friend has a better chance of being one of those lucky pets if you ever become separated!  It’s the responsible thing to do.

Heaven Can Wait pet adoptions are held every Thursday – Sunday for cats and each Saturday for dogs.  For details check our website: www.hcws.org