Your cat gets out the door and suddenly it’s as if she never existed, she’s just gone. Something unthinkable may have happened to her but chances are also good that she may have been taken in by someone, or taken to a shelter, and if so there’s a chance someone may have her scanned for a microchip and give you a call—but only if you’ve had her microchipped.
Unfortunately, most cats are not microchipped, and millions of lost cats—and dogs—are never reunited with their owners. Collars and tags are essential, but a microchip goes one step farther in that it can’t fall off or be taken off your pet and all someone would need is a scanner to read the chip to obtain your contact information. In fact, when I find a cat and can’t find its owner right away, one of the first things I do is take it to one of two local veterinary clinics and ask them to scan the cat for a chip.
But most pets are not microchipped, and many pet owners have a viable objection to their cost over the lifetime of a pet or with multiple pets. There is an initial cost anywhere from $15 to $50 to have the chip implanted, then each brand of chip has its own registry where you enter your contact information, and this registry typically has an annual renewal fee from $10 to $30—if you don’t renew you aren’t in it. While this is not a whopping amount, if you have several pets or are simply on a limited budget even this small cost can be prohibitive when added up over the lifespan of a pet. And consider a small animal rescue organization or even a larger shelter, and the cost is staggering.
At BlogPaws I met Teresa Buyikian, Senior Public Relations Manager for Found Animals Foundation, Inc. or www.FoundAnimals.org. Even before introducing myself I knew that what her organization had to offer was something I’d want to share with my readers here and the rescues and pet owners in my area—a free and permanent microchip registration that accepted any manufactured chip, and you could maintain your registry elsewhere at the same time.
According to Found Animals’ statistics, a frightening one in every three pets is lost in its lifetime, about 10,000 pets per day or one pet every seven seconds. In the past five years alone, more than 3 million lost cats and more than 760,000 lost dogs were never reunited with their owners. An infographic they supplied has even more facts and figures, not only about how many pets are lost but about the success rates of finding pets who are microchipped, especially cats.
According to a 2009 article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, with a microchip implanted, a dog is 2.4 times more likely to make it back home, while a cat with a microchip is 21.4 times more likely to make it back home.
And really, how many times do shelters tell us that one of the reasons cats often don’t make it out of shelters alive is that their owners can’t be found? Cats often enter in good physical shape, even wearing collars but with no ID, obviously someone’s pet, but there is no way to find the owner. And unfortunately adult cats aren’t often adopted, so the lost kitty never has a home again.
Microchipping your pet is recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the Humane Society of the United States. Many shelters offer it as part of the adoption package.
But there’s that cost thing again, and the idea of renewing registries each year. That’s where the free lifetime registry through FoundAnimals.org makes sense for pet owners.
A bit about microchipping
You may have heard about microchipping but really have no idea what it is or how it works. Here are a few points.
- A microchip is a small electronic device about the size of a grain of rice that is implanted just beneath your pet’s skin via injection, usually somewhere in the neck or shoulder; read more about the size of it here, and especially see the cute orange kitten Baby Bean with the big round eyes.
- The only information it holds is a unique number used to identify your pet.
- A hand-held scanner device is used to scan your pet for the microchip, waved around them much like the hand-scanners for we humans in the airport or at metal detectors—there is no diagnostic machine or surgery needed to find the chip.
- When the chip is found the machine shows the unique identification number associated with the chip.
- This number links to your contact information in an online registry that allows the person scanning to contact you if your lost pet is found.
- A microchip has no GPS capabilities.
If your pet was microchipped by a shelter or rescue, don’t forget that unless you were informed otherwise you need to register the chip with your information or the chip’s unique number won’t turn up any information at all, which is useless to you and your pet.
Also, different brands of chips have scanners that can only read their brand of chip. Many shelters and other animal service facilities now have universal scanners that can read from any chip.
If you don’t know if your pet has a chip, call your local veterinary clinic or shelter and ask if you can bring your pet in for a scan. This should not cost anything—I call ahead to the local vet and they actually keep their scanner at the front counter.
If your pet is microchipped and you don’t know if it is registered, visit AAHA’s microchip lookup. The Universal Microchip look-up tool, provided by AAHA, is an internet-based application that enables veterinarians, humane organizations, pet owners or other persons to search various Pet Recovery Service registries and identify those registries on which a particular microchip is registered, but not all registries participate in the program.
Read more about microchipping here.
How the Found Animals Registry works for pet owners
The Found Animals Microchip Registry is a free, nonprofit service dedicated to reuniting lost pets with their families. By registering your pet’s microchip number in the Found Animals Microchip Registry, if your pet is ever lost and picked up by a humane organization or individual, you will be contacted automatically via phone, email, and text with information on where your pet can be found.
- There is no cost to use The Found Animals Microchip Registry.
- To use the Found Animals Registry, simply go to the website and set up an account, which can include multiple pets. You can register any brand of microchip, add pets, and update your information for free, online, 24/7. You can have your chip registered in on other sites and registries as well.
- In addition, you can add vital health information for your pet to the chip registry and make certain that can be seen by anyone looking up the chip, so that your pet can receive necessary veterinary care as soon as the information is found. You can even add a photo of your pet.
- Remember to update changes of address and contact information!
- The Found Animals Microchip Registry accepts all brands and frequencies of microchip, all you need is the number.
- If your pet is lost and someone finds them and locates your Found Animals registry, they will only see your ID number, not any personal information.
- The Found Animals system sends an automated alert to all the contact numbers and devices you entered in your profile and repeats it for as long as the sender requests, so no phone tag or missed e-mails. This way your personal information is completely protected.
How the Found Animals Registry works for veterinarians, shelters and rescues
Those who serve animals can use Found Animals to help reunite pets with their owners, and Found Animals will also provide shelters, clinics, vets, and humane organizations with low-cost ISO 134.2kHz microchips and universal scanners.
There is no cost to set up an account, and Found Animals will call prior to confirming this type of an account so that we can answer any questions. Additionally, in the event a lost pet is found, the organization may have access to pet owner information. Founr Animals respects the privacy of pet owners and reviews accounta to ensure that their information is used for reunifications only.
- Once your account is set up, you can scan a found animal for a microchip using a universal scanner.
- Enter the microchip number in AAHA’s microchip lookup to determine where the pet is registered.
- If the pet is registered with Found Animals, log in to your Shelter/Veterinarian account at the Found Animals Microchip Registry.
- Click “Found Pet Alerts” and enter the microchip number of the lost pet.
- Click “Submit” and confirm pet information and description.
- Click “Send Notification” to send automated Found Pet Alerts.
A concern about microchips and injection site sarcoma
Some people object to microchipping fearing that injecting the tiny chip will be painful for their pet or cause infection or even an injection-site sarcoma. According to a 2011 article published in Veterinary Dermatology, “Few cases of sarcomas developing at the site of microchip application have been reported in animals, although the contributory role of vaccine administrations has not been ruled out.” The veterinary community is learning more each day about injection-site sarcomas and finding new reasons for their occurence. Please talk to your veterinarian about this if it concerns you.
Found Animals is a 501(c)(3) private operating foundation led by business and medical experts committed to decreasing the use of euthanasia in shelters. They have several other programs supporting this mission as well including: adoptions, spay neuter services, microchipping, and non-surgical sterilization research.
The concept of free chips and free registry was begun by a veterinarian after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina; read more here and watch the video.
Uh, no, my cats are not and have never been microchipped, and cost was often the problem with up to ten cats at one time. My local shelters have very low-cost microchipping clinics every few months so I guess we’ll be getting in line with it now.
Thanks to Teresa Buyikian and Found Animals Foundation, Inc. for providing the information, which I have provided free of any compensation—it just makes total sense to me!
Browse some rescued cats and kittens!
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
Read more about the Petties in this post.
Do you appreciate the stories and images we offer you each day?