For many people, our four-legged friends are more than just accessories or companions, they are part of the family. They have become so integrated into our daily lives that an entire industry has developed out of our love and concern for our furry pals. According to HowStuffWorks.com, “A pet microchip uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. RFID, as the name implies, uses radio waves as a medium to transmit information. An RFID tag stores data and, using electromagnetic forces for power, communicates that data to a device that interprets it.” Using a hypodermic needle, your vet or vet tech will inject the microchip (which is the size of a large grain of rice) between the loose skin behind your dog or cat’s shoulders. It’s relatively painless for the animal, much like their routine vaccinations.
This technology allows for shelters and animal control to identify whether or not the animal indeed has an owner. Most animals that are from shelters have already been microchipped before they are adopted out, which was the case with our 5-year-old male cat Ren. If the animal is from another source, a pet store, a box on the side of the road or a friend whose un-spayed cat got out one night and got herself knocked up (which is how we acquired our 6-month-old female cat Maui), you would most likely have to get this procedure done at a local veterinary office or low-cost clinic. The prices vary (anywhere from $25-40) but it is a worthwhile investment for your pet and your peace of mind.
The importance of this little piece of insurance was demonstrated to my husband and I recently. We had inherited Smokey, a lovely silver-gray male cat, from a former roommate two years ago. His unique appearance and awesome personality (one much more akin to a friendly dog’s than that of the typically aloof cat) made a nice addition to our home. Smokey always had a bit of an independent streak, manifested by his tendency to disappear for a few days at a time. It never worried me because he always returned. One time, however, he came back with a collar around his neck and a tag that said Smokey (coincidence or just the unfortunate nature of unimaginative human thinking?) and an unfamiliar number. Turns out another family right down the street had assumed he was a stray. This incident should have been a warning to us to get Smokey microchipped, in case he was ever mistakenly handed over to a shelter.
We never did, however, and when he disappeared the day we left for our week-long honeymoon in Hawaii, we didn’t think much of it. We had a friend coming every couple of days to feed Ren and take care of our mail, so we figured he would come around when he got hungry. Sadly, he never did come back. We don’t know if he found another family, was hit by a car, attacked by dogs, or picked up by a shelter. We will never know whether getting him microchipped would have returned him to us, but we still wished we had taken the time and money to do so.
Even though we have a new kitten, and we have mostly gotten over the loss (disappearance?) of Smokey, we still miss him and hope that he found another family to love, or, knowing Smokey, maybe three.
Photo by AlmazUK.