Because I am a pet sitter and I’m out in neighborhoods on a daily basis, I often see dogs roaming around with their owner’s blessings. I won’t sermonize that issue, but would like to relay my experience with micro chipped and non-micro chipped dogs.
I was doing vacation visits for a client’s dogs and at each visit I was greeted by a friendly English Shepherd just wanting some attention. I didn’t think much of it for the first 3-4 times, then I began to wonder if the dog might be lost so I visited several houses on the adjoining streets and was told the dog was new to the area and wandering. I made sure she had some water and continued on my way. It became obvious the dog was scavenging and was hungry, so I decided the next day to put her in the kennel in my car and have the local vet check for a microchip to find the owner. No luck, so she went home with me for the night. She was obviously crate and potty trained so I knew someone had to be missing her. I took her to our local Animal Control which is a no kill shelter and they checked again for a chip. The story does have a sad and a happy ending, but not as you’d expect. She was never reunited with her owner because they couldn’t be found, but she was placed in the prison training program at Kentucky State Prison and after the time there was adopted into a loving home where she would be kept contained and safe.
The second story is more personal. My parents live on a farm in rural southern Kentucky. Dad was driving down the road to his barn and saw a little dog sitting on the side of the road and being a dog lover like me, he stopped and checked him out. When he opened the truck door, in hopped a little Miniature Schnauzer, freshly groomed and sweet as could be. Once again, Dad took now “Ralphie” to the vet to be scanned for a chip and also advertised in the local newspapers and on the radio for the owner to possibly retrieve their pet. No luck. There was no doubt, Ralphie belonged to someone and had been well cared for…but he was a runner, and a dog that gets on a scent and runs can actually go miles and then be disoriented and totally lost. Dad fell in love with Ralphie and he now is pampered. Another sad but happy ending because the owners could not be identified. He continues to have that will to “run” so has to be walked on a leash or kept inside.
The third story has a totally different ending. I was driving on a two lane road near my home and came upon a dog laying in the road that had been hit and killed by a car and his buddy was standing watch over the friend he had lost. I zoomed in a driveway to keep the second dog from being hit and slipped a lead on him and put him in my kennel once again. This time, the remaining dog had a HomeAgain tag on his collar indicating he was micro chipped. It wasn’t necessary to have him scanned, but I just called the HA phone number and they contacted the owner who called me. I was able to return the dog to his owners who lived nearby. In this case, they were new to the community and the children let the dogs out without their electronic fence collars and they wandered away to the busy highway. As you know by reading, had the tag been gone, I would have had the dog checked and it would have led me to the owners.
My dogs wear collars and also tags with my phone numbers most of the time. However, there are certain instances where I have their collars off and there is always the possibility the collars or tags can be lost. All five of my dogs have a microchip although I know it is no guarantee they would be returned to me. People are sometimes unethical and would keep or resell a nice dog or would never think to have it scanned. However, I feel better knowing the chip is there and if they did end up at a vet’s office or animal facility, the chances are good I could be notified.
I personally have my vets insert HomeAgain chips and have all my data in their online system (free) so I can keep it updated should I move or change my phone number. The information is only worthwhile if it is correct. They do have a yearly fee for the “extras” but I have never subscribed. HA chips can be read by their proprietary scanners or by the universal scanners that many veterinarians and animal control officers now use. A local vet gave me some additional information which made me even more proactive. Vets that do use the HomeAgain chips have been provided with universal scanners which will read all brands of chips and the office was given a list of companies and the code system for their numbers so it helps to further trace the owner directly by the brand chip the animal has. This particular vet said they scan and identify owners for approximately one dog per week, and knowing they are only one of several vets in my area, this seems significant.
It may be a false sense of security, but I do feel better having my dogs micro chipped and it is inexpensive insurance. Luckily, my Iphone and Ipad can now be located with GPS as well. Now, I just need to find a way to keep from losing my glasses!