I am the Volunteer Manager at a large humane society as part of my duties I train volunteers.
One of the first things we do is take a tour of the shelter with the first stop being intake. This is the area where every animal comes into the shelter and is examined. The staff is checking the animal out to see if medical care is immediately needed and for a microchip.
I explain to the class that only about 5 percent of the animals brought into the shelter have a microchip implanted and most of those are the ones we gave the animal when it was adopted or treated at our outreach clinic.
Some of the myths about microchips are:
A. They have GPS. They do not.
B. All of the owners information is vulnerable. It is not.
C. It hurts the animal. Nope.
Microchips are no larger than a grain of rice and are injected just under the skin between the shoulder blades. They can migrate under the skin which is why when an animal is being scanned for a microchip the Vet or Vet Tech should run the hand held device all over the animal not just between the shoulder blades. This does not hurt the animal just a bit of a pain for the person trying to locate it.
If a microchip is detected a series of numbers displays on the scanner screen. This is the number the vet tech will read out to whichever company registered the chip. The only people with this access are veterinarians, shelters and qualified animal care individuals.
GPS might be a neat thing, it would certainly be easier to find your pet but microchips do not track your animal (or your) movements.
Microchips are an excellent form of identification. While there have been rare occasions when they have fallen out, they are the best form of identification and quickest way to get your pet back home. These don’t replace tags but generally people do put personal information, phone number, on their tags. Tags also are more likely to fall off.
Microchips should be checked on a regular basis and before you are going on a trip, or leaving your dog with someone. Most vet offices don’t mind if you stop in and have your dog or cat scanned. It is also important to ask your vet to check your pet’s chip during vet visits.
All the scan will do is verify the chip is still in place. It is up to you to keep the information current. You can call the company to update and verify information. There will probably be a nominal, one-time charge for any changes, but knowing your pet is properly registered is well worth the expense in my opinion.