Cheryl Wicks: Microchipping your dog | TheUnion.com

Cheryl Wicks: Microchipping your dog

Cheryl Wicks
Columnist

Please put some type of identification on your dog.

When we receive a dog at the shelter, we immediately look for some kind of identification so we can contact, most likely a very worried owner, and reunite them with their dog. If there is no identification all we can do is wait for the owner to show up.

If your dog is wearing a rabies tag we can call the veterinary hospital that gave the dog the shot and track down the owner. If the dog is licensed (by law they are all supposed to be licensed), we can track you down by checking with Animal Control using the license number.

If your dog has a tag from a pet store, we can find you that way. Although each of these ways is a good way for us to identify your dog and contact you, these tags can become detached from the dog's collar and/or the entire collar can be missing from the dog.

If your dog has a microchip, he can be scanned and you can be located. Please keep any changes in address or phone number up to date with your microchip registry so that when we call them, we can secure correct information.

If you find a lost dog, you can bring it to one of the two shelters or any veterinary office and have it scanned for a microchip. Of course, the best way is to have the dog microchipped and have one of the other IDs as well. Most people do not have a scanner in their home, so if your dog is found after hours, you will not be contacted until the next day if you only have a microchip.

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One day, we had someone bring us a cute little lab mix that they had found. We scanned the dog. Yep, it had a microchip. The dog had been missing from New Mexico for eight months. We contacted the owners.

First question: "How on earth did our dog get to California?" That remains a mystery. They had a friend in Marysville, who picked up the dog, put it on a flight and within a day the dog was back home.

Some people were traveling through Penn Valley on their way to Oregon. Their two labs got away and brought to the shelter. Scanned: a microchip listed to a phone number from Louisiana. We called the number and left a message. The owners picked up the message and in less than an hour, they had their dogs back and were on their way.

A third dog, supposedly a stray, had a chip registered to the Los Angeles County Animal Shelter. We contacted them. They had given the dog to a rescue, the rescue had adopted the dog to a student at UC Davis, who left for the summer and "dumped the dog" on her roommate. The roommate dumped the dog on his parents in Nevada City. They turned the dog in as stray (not exactly truthful). A fellow with an airplane from Pilots For Paws flew the dog to Bakersfield and the rescue picked him up. By then, he had lost his foster home, since he had been adopted. The rescue owner said he would have to go to doggie daycare.

Tsk tsk! A dog's dream, play all day every day with other dogs. This big guy was a pittie and the pilot, who had never flown a pitbull before, reported that he was the best dog he's ever transported and was a great co-pilot.

We attempted to find the owner of another dog who was brought to us with a microchip. The phone numbers were disconnected. Eventually, the owner showed up and said that eight years earlier, someone had given her the dog and she had no clue the dog was microchipped. The disconnected phone number we tried to contact apparently was that of the people who gave the dog away eight years earlier.

If you get a dog from someone else, it is a good idea to check and see if they have a chip so you can have it registered to you.

I hope this has convinced you to microchip your dog. Cats can and should also be microchipped. Hopefully, your pet will never get away from you. But as we all know, sometimes pets get away from even the best owners, so please microchip so you can be reunited as soon as possible.

If I lost my dog, I would be beside myself with worry. I know you would be, too.

Cheryl Wicks is the co-founder and president of Sammie's Friends.