If you have a pet, take a moment and imagine what it would be like if your pet went missing.
At least 10 million pets go missing each year according to the American Humane Association. Only one out of five dogs and only one out of 50 cats are ever found. In total, 90 percent of all missing pets are never found.
For many pet owners, their pet is another member of the family. There can be nothing worse than your family member going missing and not knowing where they are. Even if someone did find them, how would they find you?
There's a cheap, effective, high-tech way to ensure your pet's safe return: Have your pet implanted with a microchip. Microchips are implanted in a pet's skin between their shoulder blades. It's just as easy as a human getting a flu shot.
Microchips have a life span of 25 years and cannot be removed or damaged. They store a pet's ID number, which is registered in a national database. A shelter or veterinarian's office can detect the microchip with an RFID scanner. If they find a microchip, they can use the ID number to find the owners' information. They will then contact the owners, thereby reuniting them with their pet.
The Stanislaus Animal Services Agency shelter, where I volunteer, helps pet owners prepare for the possibility of their pet going missing. Each pet they adopt out has an AVID-brand microchip implanted. The shelter also provides microchips for $20 during their low-cost clinics. They hold them on Wednesdays and on the third Saturday of every month.
In January, the shelter ran a dog license amnesty program to celebrate its two-year anniversary. The shelter waived all penalties and fees for owners who hadn't registered their dogs. At least 800 dogs were given microchips that month.
According to HomeAgain, microchips have helped 52.5 percent of all missing dogs and 38 percent of all missing cats return to their owners. They have helped pets return home even years after they went missing.
Winston, a pug, was found due to a microchip. He was stolen from his Merced County home in 2005. He was brought to the Stanislaus shelter in 2007. He was to be euthanized because of a broken leg. His microchip was detected at the shelter, and his owners were then notified. They were very happy to finally find their dog again.
If your pet has a microchip, you must keep your contact information up to date. If you have to move or change phone numbers, contact the makers of your pet's microchip. They will help you update your contact information.
If you give away your pet, have the new owners update the microchip to their new contact information. If you don't, and if the animal gets lost, you'll get that phone call when it is found. Not only that, but you will end up paying its impound fees.
Microchips are a permanent record of your pet's identity. If your pet becomes lost, then its microchip is the best chance it has to return to you safely. Pets are worth the emotional and financial investment.
Boyer is a Modesto resident. Send questions or comments to email@example.com.