It is not unusual to come across a news item about a cat or a dog that has been reunited after five, seven, or even ten years. Usually, as in the case of Boozer shown in our previous post, it is because the owner was traced through a microchip that had been previously overlooked. A microchip is a tiny identification device, about the size of a grain of rice, that is implanted beneath the skin of your pet. Each chip contains a unique identification number. When a pet is found, it can be scanned at an animal shelter or veterinary clinic. The owners contact information is associated with that number recorded in a registry.
Unlike ID tags, microchips are permanent yet even they are not foolproof. Sometimes they migrate from the spot where usually implanted and are missed. Occasionally at a busy shelter, the scanning protocol may be overlooked. Also, there are multiple microchip registries and that leads to confusion Another drawback is that pet parents forget to update their contact information with the registry and then it is no longer possible to trace them easily. Also some people do not know about microchips and if they rescue a stray they may not know to have it scanned by a vet or a shelter which is usually a courtesy service, that is - no charge.
Many companies now offer microchips for pets. They are not terribly expensive. Often humane societies offer low-cost microchipping, so ask your local humane society or consult your vet. Remember, having some form of ID for your pet, especially a microchip, will greatly increase its chances of recovery.