Microchip Facts

Every two seconds a family companion is lost.

Tragically many never make it back home because they lack identification. A microchip along with a collar and identification tag are the best ways to ensure you and your companion will be quickly reunited.

What is a microchip and how does it work?

  • A microchip is a non-removable form of identification.
  • About the size of a grain of rice, a microchip contains a personal identification number that stays with your companion animal forever.
  • The microchip is inserted under the skin of your companion with an injection and it is a safe and easy procedure.
  • A microchip is not a GPS tracking device. The location of a lost animal cannot be tracked or determined from the microchip.
  • The technology inside a microchip is the same as bar codes found on thousands of products we use every day. It is similar the grocery store being able to scan the bar code on a food item, and then information showing up on the cash register screen. Instead of it saying “bag of potato chips” it will show a series of numbers and letters that is unique to your animal’s record.
  • When a lost animal is found, he can be taken to a local animal shelter, veterinary office, or animal control agency and examined with a hand-held scanner that reads the number specific to your animal. That unique code is connected to your name and contact information.
  • To read the microchip’s bar code, a hand-held scanner is used. The scanner can only be used when the animal is physically present, and only shelters, veterinarians and animal control officers have this type of scanner.
  • Once the microchip has been read, a phone call to the microchip manufacturer allows us to find out who the animal is registered to so we can begin the process of reuniting the lost pet with their family.
  • Most microchip manufacturers also maintain a national registration database with a telephone hotline. Contact the manufacturer for more information. If you adopted your pet from PAWS, please refer to the information about registering your pet's microchip or updating your information.

Why microchip my pet if she already wears a collar and tag?

Collars can fall off or break, tags can be lost or wear off so they are illegible. A combination of a microchip, properly fitting collar and current identification tag, and keeping your companion properly confined, are the best insurance policies you can provide to keep your animal friend safe. An added benefit: In many communities, the cost of a pet license is reduced when the cat or dog is also microchipped. 

Details courtesy of the Safeway Veterinary Strategic Alliance and the Seattle/King County Veterinary Medical Association.

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