published Monday, May 14th, 2012

Microchips help bring lost pets home

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    Implanted microchips can help owners find lost pets. Contributed photo by Amanda Jones

One out of every three pets will go missing during their lifetime, and without identification, 90 percent won't return home, reports the American Humane Association. Only 17 percent of lost dogs and 2 percent of lost cats ever find their way back to their original homeowners.

Implanted microchips can turn around those statistics.

Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and can be implanted at any time quickly, painlessly and inexpensively by a veterinarian, reports PetPlan Pet Insurance. The chips are detected by special scanners that pick up a unique combination of numbers and letters that can be traced back to your pet and its associated details. Unlike traditional tags, microchips never fade, scratch or fall off (or out), and are easily read.

"Microchips have been used in pets since the early 1990s, but the technology behind them has been in development from the early days of computing," said Dr. Jules Benson, vice president of veterinary services at Petplan Pet Insurance. "Today, most U.S. shelters and vet clinics have a scanner that can identify at least three of the four types of chips being used in pets today."

The procedure is safe, Benson said.

"In a few cases, animals have developed infections resulting from the implantation, but the vast majority of pets do not experience any adverse effects. There has historically been some concern that microchips have been linked to forms of cancer (similar to concerns over injection site sarcoma in cats). However, we are not aware of any veterinary case that has linked any incidence of cancer with an implanted microchip."

The cost to have a microchip implanted, usually performed by a veterinarian, is about $45, he said.

"Shelters often host low-cost microchipping events, which can help pet parents keep costs low. If your pet was adopted from a shelter or purchased from a breeder, your pet may already have a microchip. Consult your pet adoption paperwork, or have your pet scanned for a microchip at your next vet visit to reveal the unique microchip ID number and register it."

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karen nazorhill. Subscribe to her posts on Facebook at www.facebook.com/karennazorhill.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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