A method to prevent the loss of a treasured pet.
MCKNOTES ON MICROCHIP IDENTIFICATION
Recently I wrote in my blog a welcome to our new dog, Muffin. We’ve learned some things in the past couple of weeks that are most valuable when it comes to pet care. Pets are an investment. Make no mistake that there is a financial responsibility related to animal care. Farmers of livestock invest major money to establish and maintain various herds of animals. Whether our animals are livestock or house pets, the financial responsibility can add up quickly. Veterinarians are animal lovers who truly care about their patients, but they have decided to make their living by providing that care.
New pets need vaccinations against certain diseases or medication to eradicate diseases they have already acquired. Many people choose to have their animals neutered so that unexpected animals are not brought into the world without anyone to care for them. We have branches of the humane society, but we don’t want to just turn over unwanted animals to be terminated. That is a last choice for any humane society, and more and more often, units of this organization adopt a “no-kill” policy. That means that they go to great expense to insure that animals are placed in homes that will provide adequate care and a loving environment.
It turns out that Muffin is a bit of a bounder. She watches the front door, and has twice sneaked out between our legs so quickly that it left our heads spinning. The first time, I was carrying in some purchases, and I didn’t even see her as my vision was blocked by my parcel. Muffin loves to run and she is the most beautiful when she’s running full out and jumping deer-like over whatever obstacles get in her way. She’s still a puppy, only a year old. A large part of our responsibility is to keep her safe. Both times we have retrieved her. She’s not really trying to get away from us. I suspect that in her previous home, she was in a more rural setting and perhaps not so much an indoor pet.
To add to the drama of our new relationship with Muffin, she is a digger. We have a large portion of our yard where she can run freely. It’s fenced in, but at one point, curious Muffin found a spot where she could dig out under the fence. Again, the chase was on but she does already seem to know where her home is and didn’t wander far. We have fortified the fence now, and don’t let her roam in what we call the “pasture” without one of us with her.
This week we had a microchip inserted under her skin between her shoulders. The microchip is about the size of a large grain of rice and is inserted with a syringe not unlike her regular vaccinations. These devices operate on Radio Frequency Identification. They give off a signal that can be read by a scanning device. Veterinarians, police and humane societies have these devices and can determine if a chip implanted in the animal. Some animals wear external identification devices. We’ve all seen cattle with ear tags that serve the same purpose. Virtually every kind of animal has been tracked with similar equipment, sometimes for scientific research. Birds, bison, sheep, llamas and even armadillos have all been tagged for one reason or another.
These microchips are not yet universal. It is my understanding that the scanners can tell if there is a chip implanted, but may not be able to read the information. A number is assigned to each chip and then registered on line or by telephone with the various companies that provide this service. Again, we’re looking at the necessary investment to maintain a pet
There’s so much more to caring for a pet. Like humans, they need sensible diets that are healthy for their species. It’s not uncommon to see pets that are overfed and in their advancing age become almost immobile. This is a choice that falls into the pet owner’s hands. If humans choose to overeat to the point of morbidity; that’s their choice, but our pets depend on us to insure that they are cared for properly.
Muffin now has a chip. It doesn’t mean she will never be lost, and it doesn’t relieve us of our responsibility to confine her. It does give us some assurance, however we’ve done what we can to retrieve her if we should lose track of her. We will guard our front door and soldier our fence line until Muffin discontinues her efforts to run free. She is a happy dog. We will continue to work hard to make sure that she has plenty of room to run and play and be the adorable dog she is now,
If you have a pet, consider having a chip inserted. It does not hurt them and may very well save their lives. It’s just another way to insure that you’re doing your best to provide the best possible care for your pet. I believe sci-fi has already predicted that people will eventually have microchips that will enable locating them if they are lost in the mountains or other terrain, or even if they are running away from the law. This would be another two sided coin, of course. One can predict the cries of “Big Brother is Watching,” but lives could be saved, and even kidnapped children be located using such devices. The technology advances we have lived through are both exciting and frightening, depending on one’s outlook. I wonder what that will mean to the old saying, “He’s a chip off the old block.”