Although there are pet holidays scattered throughout the calendar year, August 15 marked National Microchip Check Day, highlighting an important aspect when talking about which tools to use. in case of disappearance of your animal.
Unfortunately, millions of pets do this every year, something every pet owner fears despite our best efforts and intentions.
According to the American Humane Association, approximately 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the United States each year – and about one in three pets will go missing at some point in their lives.
Although the reasons are many, there is one measure you can take that greatly increases the likelihood of finding your beloved pet: microchipping.
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is programmed with a unique identification number for your pet. It is non-toxic, non-allergenic and lasts the life of your pet without maintenance.
A study by the American Veterinary Medical Association found that only 22% of lost dogs and less than 2% of lost cats that entered animal shelters were reunited with their families. However, for microchipped animals, the return-to-owner rate for dogs was over 52% and over 38% for microchipped cats.
The numbers speak for themselves: the microchip increases the chances of recovering your pet if it is lost or stolen. But that shouldn’t be the only part of your lost pet strategy. Collars with up-to-date tags are the primary form of identification and the fastest way to identify a found animal.
Tags and microchips are only useful if contact and registration information is up to date. Be sure to check the information every year to keep everything up to date.
The moment you realize a pet is missing, it’s important to stay calm and act immediately by following these 5 steps to increase the likelihood of a happy reunion with your pet:
• Call the animal control officer in the city where you live and the city where your pet went missing.
• File a report of loss with the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) in person, by phone, or online. This lost report is seen by all three ARL sites. Staff will ask you to provide a photo of your pet.
• Contact your pet’s microchipping company, if your pet has one, to let them know your pet is lost. Be sure to confirm that your contact information is up to date.
• File a loss report with every shelter within 60 miles of where your pet went missing. Often, concerned citizens pick up a stray pet they see on the side of the road and bring it to a shelter near their destination instead of where they found the animal.
• Do not abandon ! Many pets go missing for months before being reunited with their owners. Stay positive, stay alert, and keep looking for them for as long as you can.
Plus, you can also contact local missing pet groups online – Missing Dogs Massachusetts has a large following on Facebook and the more eyes you have looking for your pet, the better. Networking with other animal lovers to help you in your search increases your chances of finding your beloved pet safe and sound.
Dr. Edward Schettino is President and CEO of the Animal Rescue League of Boston and holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.