In theory, microchipping your pet is an excellent way to help get him back home should he ever get lost. In reality, microchips are useless if the organization taking in lost pets doesn’t scan for them or contact the registered owner (and the alternate contacts, if necessary). There have been a spate of stories recently involving microchipped lost pets being found and the owner not being contacted.
A Pennsylvania family who left their microchipped German shepherd Sophie with a relative while they went on vacation this month only found out she had gotten lost on July 4th after they returned home on the 13th. They immediately called the HS of Westmoreland Co and learned their pet had been impounded on July 6 and adopted to a new owner six days later. The HS says it tried to reach the registered owner (whom the family obtained the dog from) listed on Sophie’s microchip but the voicemail at that number was not set up. After the 48 hour holding period elapsed, they offered the dog for adoption. The original owner disputes the shelter’s claim about her voicemail.
Either way, if a chip’s first phone number doesn’t yield results, there are always the alternate contacts as well as registered mail and good old knocking on door. But I guess that sounds like work. The HS claims the adoption is legal and that the family never legally owned Sophie anyway because they hadn’t licensed her. So stuff it, basically.
In Sonoma Co, CA, a lawsuit has been filed by the original owner of a 10 year old tuxedo cat who was microchipped at the time he went missing several years ago. The current owner, who says she bought the cat 5 years ago from a rescuer she met through her veterinarian, only found out the cat was chipped last year when she took him to a new vet who scanned him. She attempted to register the chip in her own name, prompting the chip company to contact the original owner. The original owner says she bottle fed the kitten from birth, searched for him extensively when he got lost and still wants him back. The current owner loves him too and doesn’t want to give him up.
Had either the rescuer or the first vet scanned the cat at the time he was found, he could have been returned to the original owner. Now two people are heartbroken over the matter and a cat is caught in the middle.
The city of Alton, IL recently eliminated funding for its ACO position, turning those duties over to police. This week, Alton police responded to a call about an injured dog in a store parking lot. The 15 year old dog, called Buster, had wandered away from home and apparently hurt his rear leg. His owner had filed a missing pet report with the police department including a description of Buster and his microchip information.
A witness says she saw police coax him into their car with bologna. State law requires the officers to take the dog to a vet’s office to be scanned for a microchip. Once the chip’s information had been read, the owner could have been contacted. Instead, the officers reportedly drove the dog to the AC facility where one shot him twice with a .12 gauge shotgun and the other put two bullets from his .40 caliber Glock 23 into the pet. After Buster was dead, a chip scan provided his owner’s information and the owner was notified of his pet’s killing. Oh and the police love animals:
“We know what our protocol has been up to this point,” said Emily Hejna, public information officer for the Alton Police Department. “We were presented yesterday with some law saying something that might contradict what what we have been using as practice.”
Rather than task the police department with figuring out how to work compliance with some law into their protocol, the city voted to reinstate the ACO. Hopefully the ACO has – and uses – a chip scanner. While animals are still alive.
(Thanks to everyone who sent me links for this post.)