There is not much of anything in the world than the sight of a child who is grieving a lost dog. Teary-eyed and depressed, yet hopeful, she goes around the neighborhood tacking Xeroxed signs to telephone poles, pleading for the safe return of her beloved pet, all the time knowing that the odds are stacked against her and her dog.
Over the years there have been various methods enacted to try and raise the number of lost pets that are reunited with their owners. Dog licensing and tag laws are one way that local governments have tried to help, but they don’t work very well at all. If a lost dog has lost its identification tag it is nearly impossible for anyone to find the dog’s owner.
For many years the owners of show dogs have used tattoos to put permanent identifying marks of their dogs. The tattoo is placed on the skin of the inner thigh, near the abdomen and contains a unique number assigned by the American Kennel Club. The tattoos aren’t readily visible to the average person, however, and shelter employees seldom check for tattoos on the “strays” that are brought to them on a daily basis.
A newer method of dog identification hopes to put an end to the number of lost dogs that can’t be reunited with their owners, or at least reduce it significantly. A microchip is inserted under the dog’s skin near the shoulder. This chip contains encoded data about the dog and its owner that may then be read by a scanner. It is a more permanent method than a simple metal tag, less painful and inconvenient to the dog than tattooing, and has a higher success rate than any other method when it comes to getting lost dogs back together with their owners.
The method isn’t perfect; some microchips may shift over time and become unreadable to scanners and there is the possibility, however remote, that the microchip can become demagnetized. It is the best method developed so far and is now being used all over the world.
Insertion of the microchip is a simple and nearly pain free process for the dog. Unlike tattooing, which requires the dog to be restrained and often shaved, implantation of the microchip is similar to an injection. After a tiny pinprick, its over and the dog can now be identified at any shelter equipped with the scanning device. The information on the chip is unique to the dog and the owner and makes a reunion a high probability instead of a remote possibility.
Thanks to microchip technology, we may have seen the last child crying over her lost dog and that would be a Very Good Thing.