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Advantages and Disadvantages of Pet Microchipping

Feb 26, 2008
One small device that has had big effects on the technology industry is the microchip. It has also dramatically changed the pet industry by providing a way of identifying your pet in case he ever runs away, gets lost, or is pet-napped. A microchip is a small device that is implanted under the skin, usually around the shoulder. Each one has a unique number that will be associated with only your pet, and this number can be seen by passing a Microchip Reader over the area. This tiny tag contains all the vital facts to get your pet home safely if he is lost, and it lasts as long as 25 years.

All pet owners should at least consider tagging their pet using this new microchip technology. The biggest benefit of this procedure is probably also the most obvious one: if your pet ever goes missing and is found, especially by government animal control agencies or a nonprofit like the Humane Society, he can be quickly returned to the legitimate owner.

There are some disadvantages to this process, though. In the past few years, the industry has grown rapidly, and many different manufacturers have started to make microchips. Before, every microchip could be identified using a universal Microchip Reader; now, every manufacturer uses a unique code that requires a unique reading device. This can have some undesirable consequences. For example, if your pet is found by an agency that doesn't have the proper technology to scan for the chip in your pet, the microchip will not read, and your pet may not be returned as quickly.

Many pet advocacy organizations, like the HSUS, are working against this trend. They are lobbying manufacturers and corporations to get them to agree to technology that can be read by a universal reader. Of course, the lure of money is hard to break, and manufacturers don't want to give up their unique codes.

So if you decide to microchip, do your best to make it effective. Call your local animal agencies and/or shelters to see what technologies and chips they can currently detect, and if they support more than one, ask for their recommendation about which chip to choose. You should also never underestimate the power of the old-fashioned tag, which is an easy way to identify your beloved pet. If your pet does ever get lost, immediately post to online pet sites and try to bring him home.
About the Author
Ian Spellfield, an occasionally frustrated pet owner, tests and reviews cat urine removal products at his blog Urine Off Reviews.
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