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Speaking of Pets
Pet microchips may be useless
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We live in Florida; it is late summer, so the drumbeat for hurricane preparedness is slowly getting louder and louder.

Of course, you have already made preparations for your pet; you have extra food and water, a cage for temporary housing and even an extra supply of their medicines and supplements.

Your pet was already microchipped, so you should be set. ... Or are you?

Microchips are the size of a grain of rice and offer permanent identification for your pet. If your pet were to get lost or stolen the microchip can lead your pet back to you, but only if it works properly.

Microchips are hardy little devices. They have no batteries and seldom stop working, but occasionally they do. Either from trauma, or a shock, or just bad luck, they can stop functioning. If your veterinarian doesn’t confirm that the microchip is working, ask him or her to check it on your pet’s next visit. Unfortunately, many functioning microchips do not provide protection due to other reasons.

The standard place of microchip placement for dogs and cats is under the skin, along the back near the shoulders. Some microchips can slip and migrate to other parts of the body. If the microchip has moved to a completely odd location, near a foot or on the underside of the belly, a scanner could miss it, which makes it useless.

The most common reason for a microchip failure is not due to the device itself, but rather due to the database. The microchip stores no personal information about you or your pet, just a nine- to 15-digit string of numbers and letters. When someone contacts the microchip database with this number, it should be “attached” to the personal information about the owner and the pet. If that information is wrong, the microchip is useless.

Incorrect microchip database information occurs for many reasons. Sometimes the implanter just fails to inform the database company. Often times, people move or change their phone numbers and don’t think to update the microchip information. Due to clerical errors, numbers can be accidentally transposed, which lead to disastrous results. I recommend checking your information yearly, just to be sure your pet’s protection is up to date.

Those who are unsure where to call to check this information can enter their pet’s microchip number into www.p­etmic­rochi­plook­up.or­g, which will direct you to the appropriate database.

Microchips are truly amazing and fantastic tools for our pets. Like many tools, however, they need to be maintained to have them work properly. If your pets are not yet microchipped, I implore you to do so. So many pets have been rescued due to working microchips. If your pets are already microchipped, take a few minutes and confirm that your pets are protected. Those few minutes could make a world of difference.

Michael Rumore practices at Lake Seminole Animal Hospital in Seminole. Visit www.L­akeSe­minol­eAH.c­om. His podcast about pet care can be found online at PetAn­swers­.com as well as on iTunes.

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