It’s a sad fact that most lost pets don’t ever find their way back to their owners – not because they don’t want to, but because they simply don’t have proper identification.
Free website www.doglost.co.uk says it receives over 100 calls a week from owners whose dogs have been lost or stolen. Since the reunion site was set up four and a half years ago, it has helped to get 5,500 dogs back to their owners, many simply because they had been microchipped. However, microchipping isn’t just for dogs. A variety of pets including cats, horses, rabbits and ferrets can also be chipped.
When an animal is seen by RSPCA officers, most dog wardens* and by a vet for the first time it will be routinely scanned for a microchip which will show who its owners are.
“Microchipping your pet is really the best way to boost the chances of him or her being returned to you if lost, stolen or involved in an accident,” says Suzie Graham, RSPCA East Regional Manager.
“We see so many heart-warming reunions thanks to a simple microchip, the cost of which is a fraction of the money most owners willingly spend on their loyal pets each year. At our eight community animal action weeks last year we chipped almost 1,300 pets, just a fraction of the 40,000 owners choosing to chip each month.”
Vets are also being encouraged to scan as routine. As well as tracing the owners of stray animals, vets may help detect the true identity of some stolen pets.
“It’s vital that we continue to stress the importance of checking for microchips when any new animal arrives at the vets,” confirms David Catlow, President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA). “We know how hectic running a busy practice can be for our members, but the truth is that scanning and identifying animals early on, inevitably reduces the strain on the system of looking after and trying to rehome untraceable animals.”
And, if vets have concerns about getting involved in disputes over ownership when a microchip reveals information which is different from the current keepers, they needn’t. Providers like Petlog** – which runs the largest microchip registration scheme – take care of any issues once the location of the scanned animal is reported to them, including any disputes.
Finally, the RSPCA is calling for owners with microchipped pets to remember to update their personal details with their microchip registration provider – especially if they change address.
The RSPCA believes that more pets could be happily re-united with their owners if all lost animals were scanned by councils as a matter of routine.
*The RSPCA is calling on dog wardens from local councils to routinely scan all animals for microchips when they first see them. Currently, it is believed that about one in three councils has a written policy on routinely scanning for microchips when stray and injured animals are found – despite the fact that almost all councils have scanners available.
**Petlog is the Kennel Club’s pet identification service and by far the largest service in the country. There are currently over 3.5 million microchipped animals supported by the Petlog service and it has been recognised by all animal welfare organisations. It encourages and promotes responsible pet ownership through microchipping as the preferred method of permanent identification.
Emily, a young rescue poodle was spotted trying to get out of a reservoir near Washingborough in November this year. Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service managed to pull her out of the water and called RSPCA animal collection officer (ACO) Alan Horan who scanned the soggy dog for a chip and took her home.Emily had been missing for 12 days and nights after disappearing while out walking. She was wearing a collar and tag as well as her microchip and was returned to her overjoyed owners who had given up hope of seeing her again.
Owner Barbara Casswell from Gainsborough had been visiting friends when Emily went missing. She scoured the area, put up posters and contacted the local press for help. Mrs Casswell said: “I really started to think that Emily might be gone for good so I was amazed when we got the call to say she’d been found.
“Although Emily had a collar, the microchip was vital as she could so easily have lost her collar or it could have been taken off – chips are there forever.”
Dog Terrified By Fireworks Returns Home
One-year-old Rottweiler-cross Murphy was so terrified by fireworks that he scaled his owner’s garden fence, but his microchip made sure he was returned when he was found more than 24 hours later.
Murphy was found in Stow-cum-Quy, six miles from his home in Teversham, Cambridgeshire. His owner, Felicity Collins, had put up posters, contacted the local radio and driven all around the area in a desperate attempt to find her pet. However, it was his microchip, found when he was scanned by RSPCA inspector Dave Podmore, that brought him home in October this year.
Mrs Collins said: “Murphy has always been scared of fireworks, but I couldn’t hear any on the day he went missing and let him out into the garden for a few minutes. “When he disappeared I honestly thought we wouldn’t see him again. I am so pleased he was microchipped.”
Mr Tibs Comes Home
Longhaired tabby Mr Tibs was returned to his owner in Oxford almost 11 months after he went missing.
The four-year-old cat was being fed by a resident of nearby Headington who decided to take him in to be checked for a microchip at an RSPCA microchipping event in November 2007. His owner, Steve Luckett, had not seen Mr Tibs since January this year, not long after the cat moved from Cornwall to Oxford when his previous owner died.
Mr Luckett said: “Mr Tibs belonged to a relative of my sister and he is a much-loved family pet. I thought he had tried to make his way back to Cornwall and gave up hope that he would return. “It is thanks to his chip and that we kept our contact details up to date that we now have our pet home again.”
Tinker Makes A Move
Tinker the cat was reunited with her family after three days and a 70-mile journey thanks to her microchip.
The black and white cat hitched a ride on a removals van from her home town of Barton-upon-Humber to Hucknall in July this year. She stayed the weekend locked in the truck before depot staff found her and called the RSPCA.
Tinker’s owners Andy and Carolyn Clark adopted her from a rescue centre in 2006. Andy said: “She has always been a bit of a risk-taker, but when she had been gone all weekend we really started to worry. I am so pleased that Tinker was microchipped as we probably would never have seen her again otherwise.”
Stolen Zeus Returned To Owners
German shepherd Zeus was found straying in Loscoe, Derbyshire, in July this year. The RSPCA became involved as he needed treatment for a severe skin infection.
When the two-year-old dog was scanned for a microchip, it revealed that his owners lived in Sutton-in-Ashfield. They had reported him stolen in April and were amazed to see him again.
RSPCA inspector Vicky Taylor fitted Zeus’ microchip herself in 2006. She said: “I recognised Zeus and remembered chipping him. He may never have been reunited with his owners without the chip, but now he is happy to be home and back to his old self.”
Gizmo Home After Two Years
Gizmo, a grey Siamese-cross cat, was reunited with his owners in August this year after going missing almost two years before, in 2005.
He was found less than a mile from his old home in Milton Keynes after running off when his owner, Karen Jones, moved house. Gizmo’s collar had become stuck around his middle and he had to have skin grafts on the wound, but he made a full recovery.
Miss Jones said: “I had almost given up hope of ever seeing Gizmo again – the worst thing was not knowing what happened to him.
“He has settled back in with my other two cats and was so pleased to see us. I would recommend microchipping to every pet owner.”