Little chip can be big help for pets, owners

Pet owners seeking ID might consider microchipping
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
-A +A
Fido could use one. So could Whiskers. Pet microchipping is nothing new, but that doesn’t make it any less important. And while the permanent identification process has been around for a few years, local pet experts say there’s still a lot for pet owners to learn. “Nobody wants their pet euthanized,” said Dr. Nicki Kominek, an Auburn veterinarian. “You lose your pet, you want it back, you want to consider permanent identification.” In a nutshell, think of microchipping as an internal dog (or cat) tag. A device roughly the size of a grain of rice is implanted into an animal’s shoulder area using a syringe. Kominek said a lot of animal advocates recommend implanting a microchip when the animal is under anesthesia, like when they’re being spayed or neutered. “People take one look at the needle and say, ‘I think we’ll do it when they’re out,’” she said. A hand-held scanner detects the microchip and reads an identification number, which can be traced back to databases kept by microchip manufacturers. If the pet owner does their part, Kominek said, their up-to-date contact information should be on file with the microchip company and the pet owner would be contacted with information about their pet’s whereabouts. “We know they lose collars, so this is a good idea,” Kominek said. Veterinarians and animal shelters are among those who use the scanners. Kominek said every animal that comes into Bowman Veterinary Hospital is scanned for a microchip — it’s just another part of the check-up, she said. Leilani Vierra, CEO of Placer SPCA, said microchipping is a standard procedure for all adoptable animals. “About five years ago, we decided it was a necessity to our pet adoption process,” she said. “We feel it is the most successful way to reunite lost animals with their owners.” Vierra said lost animals do sometimes come in to Placer SPCA that have been microchipped, but she’d like to see more. “We’re starting to see more animals that are microchipped, but it’s still a small, small percentage,” she said. Matt Green, Placer SPCA director of operations, said animal control officers in Roseville also carry the scanners while out in the field with the goal of returning microchipped animals to their owners without the animal ever being brought into the shelter. In addition to microchipping pets prior to adoption, Placer SPCA also offers its services to public animals, for $20. Placer SPCA also holds monthly rabies and microchipping clinics. The next clinic will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Placer SPCA’s Roseville facility, 150 Corporation Yard Road. Vierra said microchipping is one good way to identify pets. “Microchipping is a great permanent form of ID, but we suggest a more visible form of ID as well,” she said. In other words, don’t get rid of that collar and tag just yet. Terrie Taylor and her husband have two cats, Jelly Bean and Coco, adopted from Auburn Area Animal Rescue Foundation, where the feline duo was microchipped. Taylor said that while her kitties stay indoors, you just never know. “They’re interested in the outside and should they dash away we have a little bit of comfort,” she said. Taylor takes Coco and Jelly Bean to the Bowman Veterinary Hospital, and said Kominek suggested she check the cats’ microchip registration information. Taylor said she was happy for this bit of advice. “I don’t think I’d realized you had to register and follow up,” she said. Thankfully, Taylor said, the contact information was current. Even though Taylor hopes she’ll never have to deal with a lost pet, knowing her cats are microchipped is an assurance. “Like getting fluoride on your teeth, it’s just one of those good things you should do,” she said. Reach Loryll Nicolaisen at