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The Best Gift of All

The Importance of the Microchip

For those of us that own pets, there are often several questions that we ask regarding the health, wellness, and responsible ownership of our animals. How often should I get my house cat vaccinated? Is flea and tick prevention safe to use? Is pet insurance worth it? Should my dog be on a grain-free diet? And on, and on it goes…Endless questions and, often times, endless answers. It seems that every time you search the internet for an answer, you get hundreds of different suggestions for just one question. But, there is one question with an answer that resonates throughout the animal welfare community, “Should I get my animal microchipped?” A resounding “YES” is the answer most echoed by vets, shelters, and animal welfare advocates around the country.

It is estimated that just 26% of dogs and 12% of cats in the United States are microchipped. With one in three pets becoming lost or stolen at some point in their life, microchips add a level of protection that no other form of ID can. In fact, according to Petfinder, the return rate for microchipped animals is 52% higher than those that are not chipped. Even the smallest of animal shelters and vet hospitals have witnessed this first hand. Every week the staff at Intermountain Humane Society witnesses the importance of a microchip when lost animals are brought-in by good samaritans. Often times the owner was camping or hiking nearby, but sometimes the owners are much further away. This was the case with Snowball. A dog whose story stands out above the rest.

Stray Dog

Snowball was found as a stray in Southern Colorado. Upon getting picked-up, the dog was given the routine exam provided by most animal control departments, including a microchip scan. Oddly, the dog’s chip wasn’t located at the time (a rare occurrence). Thus, the dog was admitted into the shelter system, was given a clean bill of health, and was named “Buster.” Intermountain Humane Society caught wind of the big, beautiful, Labrador needing a home and immediately agreed to the transfer. “Buster” arrived at IMHS in early December of 2019. As is protocol, upon arrival the dog was given another physical exam to ensure he was healthy and to assess needs prior to adopting him to his forever home. It was during this second exam that a chip was found! Although it is uncommon, the dog’s microchip had migrated and was found under his body near his ribcage. The staff was elated that they may be able to find the dog’s owner!

Found Dog

Once the chip number was recorded, shelter staff entered it into the national microchip database. The chip was matched to an owner! Staff immediately contacted the number provided to let the owner know of their dog’s location. Upon hearing the news, the owner became so overjoyed that words were hard to come by. As it turned out “Snowball” had been missing for over 6 months. The owners, like so many others, had moved and the dog had gotten out and didn’t recognize the new area. When this occurred, the owners contacted the chip company with updated information, knowing that the microchip would be Snowball’s best chance at coming home.

Home for the Holidays

Snowball’s owners drove north to Intermountain Humane Society on the 27th of December to retrieve their long lost family member. It is still unknown where the Snowball was 6 months, but one thing is for sure, it was a wonderful gift for the holidays and a heartwarming story for all of IMHS staff.

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