Vice President of Media Strategy, NAVC
Patricia Wuest was the Vice President of Media Strategy at the NAVC until retiring in 2022.Read Articles Written by Patricia Wuest
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats. Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats). About 710,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 620,000 are dogs and only 90,000 are cats. In fact, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), one in three family pets will get lost during their lifetime. Obviously, a missing pet has a greatly increased chance of being returned to its owner if it is microchipped (and that information is kept up to date).
A study of 7,704 stray animals at 53 animal shelters showed that dogs without microchips were returned to their owners 21.9% of the time, whereas microchipped dogs were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time. Cats without microchips were reunited with their owners only 1.8% of the time, whereas microchipped cats went back home 38.5% of the time. For microchipped animals that weren’t returned to their owners, most of the time it was due to incorrect owner information (or no owner information) in the microchip registry database.1
For 876 animals for which the owners could not be found, the main reasons were incorrect or disconnected telephone number (310 or 35.4%), owner did not return telephone calls or respond to a letter (213 or 24.3%), and animal was registered to another group (151 or 17.2%). Of 1,943 animals for which animal shelters contacted a microchip registry, 1,129 (58.1%) were registered in the database. Purebred neutered dogs whose owner information was in the shelter database registry or microchip registry had a higher likelihood that the owners would be found.1
With these staggering statistics in mind, we posed this question to our Facebook fans: Have the majority of your clients gotten their pets chipped? While the polling sample was small (only 59 respondents), 56% of respondents said “yes” and 44% said “no.”
To remind pet owners to have their pets microchipped and to keep the registration information up-to-date, AVMA and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) joined together to create “Check the Chip Day,” which is Aug. 15.
The NAVC, AVMA and AAHA hope to encourage the veterinary community to educate clients about the value of microchipping. Microchips greatly increase the chances that pets will be reunited with their families if they are lost or stolen, but a microchip only works if its registration information is accurate.
The AVMA has produced this infographic to make it easier for you to convey the importance of microchipping to your clients:
Tips for Encouraging Clients to Microchip Their Pets
1. Have the Conversation. Tell your pet owners that hopefully their pet will never get lost, but in case it happens, by making sure their pet has been microchipped, they are increasing the chance for a speedy — and happy — reunion.
2. Explain the Value of Microchipping. Unlike collars and ID tags, they can never break or fall off. Pet microchips carry a unique ID number. No two animals carry the same ID number.
3. Explain the Microchipping Process. Clients may think the procedure hurts or that the microchip can harm their pets. Explain that microchips are no bigger than a grain of rice and they are placed under your pet’s skin with a needle and syringe, not much differently than a routine vaccine. Microchips are made of a biocompatible material that doesn’t cause allergic reactions.
4. Explain How the Technology Works. It’s pretty simple: the implantable computer chip encodes a unique identification number. If your dog or cat is lost and is brought to a veterinarian or a shelter, the pet is scanned. If it has a microchip, the chip (or transponder) receives a radio signal from the scanner. The encoded chip identification number is then transmitted back to the scanner. If your dog or cat is lost or stolen, and is found by a shelter or brought to a veterinarian, the pet would be scanned. As you’ve chipped your animal, the Radio Frequency (RF) signals the info and the unique ID code is read to the scanner.
5. Remind Them About Keeping Their Information Current. Microchips are reliable and use nationwide registries, but they ultimately depend on the information that the client provides. Once the chip identification number is transmitted, the vital contact information is provided — reuniting the lost pet with its owner is only a phone call away. Obviously, for this to be successful, clients need to register their pets’ microchips and keep their contact information up-to-date. Also encourage your clients to provide multiple emergency contacts in case their pet gets lost while they are out of town.
Download our Why Microchipping Is Important client handout.
- Lord L, Ingwersen W, Gray JL, Wintz DJ. Characterization of Animals with Microchips Entering Animal Shelters.