Lost and Found

Use microchips, GPS to keep tabs on Tabby!

Lost from his home several years ago, “Lucky Cat” had the good fortune to be taken in by a caring family, but the tale was not so happy for the sad kids he left behind. His microchip didn’t help them find him.

The size of rice grains, microchips are injected under the skin and provide an excellent way to permanently identify pets. They carry unique numbers that can be read by a scanner. Pet owners register the number along with their own names and contact information. When a lost pet is scanned, happy reunions follow and all is well.

But only vet clinics, shelters and a few other organizations have scanners. What if no one thinks to get your lost pet scanned? Unless there’s other identification on the animal, you may never get him back.

“Lucky Cat” is not unique. Periodically, pets lost years ago are scanned for one reason or another and their original owners get traced. When we contacted Lucky’s first owners last week, they decided not to ask for his return since he had been with the finders for nearly three years. It would likely have upset children in both homes to move him back. It was an amicable ending, but a bittersweet story.

To avoid the heartache and worry of losing a pet, be sure to cover all the bases. Do have your pet microchipped. The cost is only about $50 or less if done at a fundraising clinic. It is still the best way to permanently identify an animal. It is extremely rare for a chip to fall out or malfunction.

But, keeping Lucky’s story in mind, you should also put your phone number or address on your pet’s collar. Cats can hang themselves if collars get caught, so only those with breakaway buckles should be used. If a collar gets lost, you’re back to depending on the microchip, but that is far better than nothing.
People who find pets without identifying collars or tags can contact a local veterinarian or animal shelter to arrange for scanning. There should not be a cost associated with having a lost pet scanned.

If you are into technology, there’s an even better way to find your pet or even avoid losing him in the first place. GPS devices that track the animal’s location through a special collar are available from a growing number of companies. A quick scan of the internet revealed prices in the $150 range to buy the equipment, then monthly service fees of $13 to $20. One example is made by PocketFinder. Bearing in mind that the transmitters your pet wears for GPS tracking can fall off like any collar or tag, microchipping is still a good safeguard.

Dr. Fiona Gilchrist
Hillcrest Animal Hospital – Quinte West/Trenton, Ontario
May, 2013