by Dr. Janice Bush, DVM, M.Sc.

According to the ASPCA, 5 to 7 million dogs and cats end up in shelters in the United States every year.  Of these, fewer than 30% of dogs and 5% of cats are reclaimed by their owners. Lost pets create significant stress on an owner’s time and resources in attempts to reunite with them, not to mention the emotional distress of missing a beloved friend. Oftentimes these associated stressors dictate how much time and effort can be spent in trying to find the pet, and the majority of missing pets remain lost.

Microchipping your pet can greatly improve the chances of a happy reunion in the event that they are lost. Current statistics show that only about 15% of lost dogs being reclaimed are found through their microchip. For cats the number is unknown. One reason may be that cats are less commonly microchipped than dogs. However, statistics show that cats tend to go missing more commonly and for longer periods of time than dogs, so a means of identification becomes even more critical.  Reunion numbers could be vastly improved if more pets were microchipped. Animal shelters, local animal control officers and veterinary hospitals are equipped with universal microchip scanners that allow us to identify pet owners easily and quickly. Your pet’s veterinarian can even be listed as a secondary contact to help speed up the process of reunion.  Even your pet’s medical information can be linked to the microchip to allow for necessary medical care in the event that he or she is taken in by a shelter or veterinary practice.

With the New Year upon us, it’s a good time to make some decisions for positive changes in our lives. Consider having your dog or cat microchipped as an excellent preventative measure against unanticipated loss.