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Tips for Finding a Lost Pet

What to do if your dog or cat is lost.

Microchips continued...

Most shelters and veterinarian offices can implant the microchip, and most have the scanners needed to read them. The cost of the chip and implantation is typically no more than $75. In addition, the owner of the dog must submit the appropriate documents and fee to register the chip with the parent company; if this step is overlooked, the microchip is useless if the dog is lost.

If a pet is found, the shelter or veterinarian will routinely scan for a chip and contact the registry. In turn, the microchip company will contact the pet owner.

According to one study describing stray animals in shelters, nearly 60% of microchipped dogs and cats were registered in a database. The majority of these owners were successfully contacted and the animals safely returned home.

But microchipping has its drawbacks.

Microchips using three different frequencies and two different communication protocols are sold in the U.S.

The Humane Society of the United States warns that despite the development of universal scanners, some chips may be missed. Proper scanning technique and repeat scanning may improve detection, but neither option guarantees success.

Also, the microchip provides little benefit if you move and fail to update the registry with your new contact information.

"With an ID tag, it's a quick call and the pet is back home," Weiss says. Fewer than 5% of all U.S. pets have microchips, says John Snyder of the Humane Society of the United States.

Microchip or not, "we can say without reservation the majority of American pet owners do not provide identification for their animals," Snyder says. Changing that is a good idea -- before your pet gets lost.

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Reviewed on July 15, 2010

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