PAWS Magazine

Issue 42, Summer 1999

Microchips: the best insurance policy for lost animals

Joey Cora is a cat full of contradictions. First off, despite her male name, Joey Cora is a female cat. Secondly, her human companions are not particularly baseball fans (Joey, named after a former Mariner, had already been named when her current family adopted her). Joey does have one unambiguous noncontradictory trait: she loves to explore. Her exploring has so concerned her human companions that they did something that too few companion animal guardians ever think to do: they had Joey microchipped. It was this very microchip that helped PAWS reunite Joey quickly with her family.

PAWS was first introduced to Joey when someone from the local U-Haul outlet stopped by PAWS with the cat in a box. Though the shelter was closed, PAWS Advocacy’s Mike Jones and Development Director Robbin Peterson were working late and were able to receive Joey into the shelter. As with all strays that come into the PAWS shelter, Joey was checked for a microchip with a hand-held scanner. Robbin didn’t hold out much hope for hearing the telltale beep of the scanner, because so few people microchip their cats. But sure enough, the machine beeped.

"We were so excited, and surprised," says Robbin.

She had reason to be surprised. Last year the PAWS shelter accepted 1,070 stray cats from the City of Lynnwood and unincorporated Snohomish County. Of those cats, a pitiful 34 were returned to their human companions. This means that for every 31 cats that come into the PAWS shelter, only one will return home; the rest are put up for adoption. (If you lose your cat or dog, visit the PAWS web site for lost and found resources at www.paws.org, and call PAWS at (425) 787-2500 extension 565 more resources.)

Joey Cora was the first cat in recent memory that came in microchipped, says PAWS Shelter Supervisor Eric Oftshus. Which is a shame, because if a cat comes into a shelter with a microchip, it is virtually certain to be reunited with its family.

PAWS Companion Animal Advocate Kay Joubert is a big supporter of microchipping. As a part of Safeway’s Veterinary Strategic Alliance, Kay and the VSA recently helped more than 2,300 local animals get microchipped during a recent Safeway promotion. The procedure involves a simple injection of a rice grain-sized chip under the skin of the animal. Registration information is sent to the chip manufacturer and is available on a 24 hotline. If a microchipped stray animal comes into a shelter or veterinary clinic, the manufacturer can quickly provider information about the animals’ guardian.

PAWS board member Iain Moffat also sings the praises of microchips. As the president of a large property management firm, he requires all of his tenants to sign an agreement that their companion animals are microchipped. To help things along, Iain has brought in vets to his apartment buildings to offer on-site vaccinations and microchipping.

And of course the human guardians of Joey Cora the cat are believers in microchipping as well. "We had been out for three hours plastering the neighborhood with "Lost Cat" signs," says Camille Senechal. "So we missed the initial call that he had been found." Camille’s son Alex was especially happy to find Joey. "I missed him," says Alex.

"Getting your companion animal microchipped is easy," says Joubert. Just contact your veterinarian about the simple procedure and pricing." Vets for Less in Lynnwood offers lower cost microchipping services (425) 672-4343.



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