Value of Microchipping Your Pet

Happy Cat Sanctuary

Technology is awesome. An app can help you locate your stolen smartphone, and even snap a photo of the thief. Touchscreens are now becoming standard on laptops. Last week, Obama became the first sitting president to have his image printed in 3-D. We even have the ability to tag our beloved pets with microchips so that, if they ever run astray, we can be reunited with them.

When you consider that 1 in 3 pets will go missing at some point in their lives, microchipping your pets seems like a no-brainer. After all, when there’s a 33% chance of losing your darling little four-legged friend, you want to use every method available to ensure his safe return.

Sadly, however, only 12% of cats and 26% of dogs were microchipped in 2010. Because of this, millions of pets are unnecessarily euthanized every year simply because shelter staff could not locate the owner. Microchipping exponentially increases the odds of reuniting lost pets with their owners, and can be the difference between life and death for so many animals.

Now let’s be clear – a microchip is not a tracking device. Unlike a GPS system, you can’t track your pet’s location from your computer. Instead, a microchip is something that veterinarians and shelter staff can scan, very similar to the barcode cashiers scan when you’re checking out at the grocery store.

Microchipping your cat or dog is a very simple procedure done by your veterinarian that involves implanting a small computer chip the size of a grain of rice just under the skin on the back of the animal’s neck. It is a quick, relatively painless procedure that takes just a few minutes and heals quickly. Prior to insertion, the microchip is loaded with the owner’s details – your name and contact information.

This way, if your little fur ball ends up in a local shelter, the staff can wave a wand over her neck and, presto, your contact details come up on their computer, and you get your pet back – as long as you keep your contact details updated in the database. (Contact your vet and get your pet’s microchip updated if you change your address or phone number, or you re-home your pet with a new owner.)

Melissa Cox is Director of Communications for Happy Cat Sanctuary in Medford, New York, a non-profit cat sanctuary, Trap-Neuter-Release agency, and adoption facility. Learn more at

Photo Credit: Melissa Cox