What pet owners should know about microchips - WFLA News Channel 8

What pet owners should know about microchips

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Microchips and rabies tags can help identify your pet if it is lost. Microchips and rabies tags can help identify your pet if it is lost.
Microchips are one of the best ways to reunite lost pets with their owners, especially if a pet’s collar comes off.

Microchips are actually very small transponders that are about the size of a grain of rice. They use radio frequency waves to transmit information about pets. Microchips are implanted underneath an animal’s skin, often between their shoulder blades, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

A hand-held scanner is then used to get information about a lost pet, including how to contact its owner.

WFLA.com has learned that many of the pets that wind up at the Hillsborough County Animal Shelter do not have microchips. Fewer than 6 percent of animals that arrived at the shelter in 2013 had the chips, according to Hillsborough County Animal Services Spokesperson Michelle Van Dyke.

For those people whose pets have microchips, Dyke recommends you make sure to keep your records updated when you move or change phone numbers.

Related: Pet Personals

If you are interested in getting a microchip for your pet, you can contact your veterinarian or also check with your county’s animal services agency.

Some agencies, like Pinellas County Animal Services, offer low cost microchipping. If you live in Pinellas County and your pet has an active rabies tag, you can get a microchip for $20.

Hillsborough County Animal Services does not offer individual microchipping services, but microchipping is included when you adopt an animal at the shelter.

Hillsborough County Animal Services often runs special reduced-price adoption fees. For example, you can adopt a dog, cat, puppy or kitten for the reduced price of $20 through the end of 2013.  The adoption fee includes an initial checkup, microchipping, vaccinations, rabies tags and spaying and neutering.

Van Dyke also says that rabies tags can have an added benefit. Lost pets can often be reunited with their owners if they have a rabies tag on their collar.

“A rabies tag is like a free ticket home,” she said.

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