Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Microchips and Me

I will shield your heart from the rain
I will let no harm come your way
Oh these arms will be your shelter
No these arms won't let you down,
If there is a mountain to move
I will move that mountain for you
I'm here for you, I'm here forever
I will be your fortress, tall and strong
I'll keep you safe,
I'll stand beside you, right or wrong
-"For You I Will" - Monica


Even before your pet goes missing, I think it is wise to adopt the mantra: UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE with the chip companies.  If you pay for the premium service you can even change your information when you go on holiday and switch it back when you return.

The microchip is not a tracking device.  When read by a scanner a chip number will be detected.  It is then up to the person who scanned to call around to the various chip companies to see if the number is registered.  Then, if the number is registered, the chip company will call the owner and alert him that someone has found the dog.  What a process!

I did not realise this.  I thought my personal information was actually embedded in the chip.  I thought that if my dog was ever scanned, my phone number would pop up.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss but it is certainly not a defense.  In my case it caused me even more grief than I needed.

Quigley's microchip was not registered in the UK.  We also ignorantly assumed that when we moved Quigley from the USA to the UK it would have been taken care of by the professional pet moving service we used since they required us to microchip him.  They didn't give us any other information to follow-up on when we arrived in the UK.  So, no problem, right?  Wrong.  We didn't know to re-register his information with a UK microchip company.  Nor did we think to get a UK microchip in addition to his US one just to be one hundred percent sure the information could be read on all UK microchip readers.  We just didn't know the nuances of how the microchip worked.

The good news, we learnt, is that some of the major companies like Pet Log do keep a record of calls made in relation to microchip numbers that aren't registered with them.  The claim they can cross reference the call history.

One of Quigley's Facebook followers posted this information as a follow-up to this blogpost.  I think it is very good to know:
"It is a good idea to tell your chip company that you want it on your dogs records that they are not to be rehomed without reference to you. Some companies will change chip details, and sign dogs over to rescues if the correct paperwork is submitted. The lass on the phone at Identichip told me that they will do so; they have now endorsed my records to say that must not happen. Petlog will not allow your dog to be re-homed if you have had him flagged up as missing"

The four major companies in the UK, as I understand, are PetlogAnibasePet ProtectPETtrac.  Petlog is the most well-known.  They will refer a caller to the other companies if they don't have the microchip number registered in their system, or at least this is their claim.  To be extra safe, you might want to register with all four companies.  I have done that now.

I think it is wise to consider paying for the premium service with one chip company.  Should your dog go missing, they will send out alerts to vets, rescue centres and wardens within a 30 mile radius of where the dog was last seen.  They will also make you "missing" posters and send them to you next day.  Pet Log also has a new text alert service that I just read about.

The companies will send out alerts once they are notified of your dog's disappearance.  So, get in touch quickly.  Your back office person can make this call for you as long as he knows the specifics about your dog and has your personal information.  This person should identify himself as you, the owner, in order to list the dog as missing/stolen.  A dog can get picked up and passed on fairly quickly.  A dog can legally be re-homed or euthanized after seven days in a rescue centre.

If your dog was stolen in some sort of robbery or you have evidence of theft you should obtain a crime reference number from the local police.  You should give this number to the microchip company and register the dog as stolen.

It is also prudent to have your vet periodically scan your dog to make sure the chip hasn't migrated from the shoulder blade area.  Apparently chip migration is quite common and if the dog isn't scanned thoroughly along the entire body the chip might not be detected.

I came across two websites which will tell you with which company a chip number is registered.  This is a helpful way to check your pet's chip status but it doesn't replace scanning.

Here is a petition that has been started to get vets to scan all newly obtained dogs that are brought into the surgery.  A member of Team Quigley posted it on my Facebook page.  It is so important that vets scan new pets that come into the practice.  In this way, a lost or stolen pet can easily be returned.  My vet said he returned a cat to his owners by scanning.  The cat was missing for two years!  Have a look at the petition and sign it if you believe vets should get scanning:

Vets Get Scanning Petition

Petition to get vets to scan


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