Monday, December 10, 2012

Get Vets Scanning.... Find the Stolen Pet!

Do you know the number of microchipped pets out there that are euthenased? How about the number of pets that are stolen that never make it back home?

We don't know those figures, because no one is looking at them. As a result, this is a hidden statistic, unless you are the statistic.

Could your missing pet have been one of them simply because you believed that your pet's microchip will get them back home?

I don't want to scare anyone, but the sad reality is, your pet will only come home if your pet's microchip details are up to date on a database... AND in New South Wales, this is the Companion Animal Registry, and only if all vets scanned and checked pet's microchip details.

But, I would be in Heaven if I believed that this was enough... It is not.  Many vets are scanning pets that come in them for their vaccinations and vet checks each year.   This is a great first step.

Russell Vale Animal Clinic promotes Get Vets Scanning, and
also the Lost Dogs home - Pet ID Day! 
Getting Lost pets back home.
But, very few of them, in fact only a handful in New South Wales, are actually checking the microchip registries, to check if the person who brough the pet is, legitimately, the rightful owner or carer for this pet, and/or  if this information is up to date with current phone numbers and email addresses.

The only way your stolen pet is going to get back home, is for vets to start scanning and checking, at every visit.

Russell Vale Animal Clinic is one of those very few vet hospitals which scan and check every pet!

So, what is "Get Vets Scanning" all about?  It is about that.... encouraging loving pet owners to get their vets scanning, and then checking the details on the database. It is about asking your vet to "Scan and Check".

Unfortunately, the line "Get Vets Scanning and Checking the Database for your pet " doesn't sound very exciting, but the reality is the same.  Get Vets Scanning.  Now!

And vets won't do it until they are pressured to do so, and that will come from you, the pet owner. 

It isn't that vets don't care about pets and their owners, but because they care too much.  They trust that the person coming in, saying that they are the owner of this pet, is actually the owner.  And they trust that the system of microchip implantation works, with details being up to date and current.

I am not one of those vets. We know mistakes can happen at so many different steps of the process.  We know, because it happened to us. To our own dog. Our dog Sugar.

What are those steps where things can go wrong?

1. At the point of microchipping - the pet may be microchipped, but the chip itself may travel around the body (for example, down the shoulder or neck) or even out. Which means a difficult to find chip or not able to be found chip.

The NSW Governments 1-2-3
Steps don't talk about the
1-2-3 that can go wrong!
2. The Paperwork - it is either sent in to the local Council or submitted via the internet by the microchipper.  Sending it online obviously means very few errors, but sending via post - well that sets up a few potential mistakes

- Lost in post
- Sitting on someones desk
- Sitting on someones desk who thought they had inputted it.

3. And then, unless the chip is scanned and checked each year, we never know if the chip is still doing what we think it is doing.  And what we think it is doing is getting our pets home sooner.

Teddy  - the face of our Lost and Found Pets
of the Illawarra Facebook Page
- Get Vets Scanning!  he says! Sugar was
his best friend!
Now back to Sugar.  Sugar was our Maltese Terrier from 1999.   A colleague of mine had chipped her for me (as they were my employee at the time).  We hadn't made the point of scanning her (or other dog Teddy).

One time, both her and Teddy, ended up at the local Pound. Even though they had been there all day, I got the call at fifteen minutes to five, and they closed at five.  I never drove so fast, as there was no way they were spending the night in the pound!  I remember my clients looking at me strangely as I said they had to wait.

But, it did strike me as strange (but I didn't act on it), that it was Teddy's microchip that reunited us, but not Sugar's. And they did ask whether Sugar, who was found with him, was also mine.  Well, she was, and I took them both home, after paying the horrendous fine.

When Sugar went missing again, and was never found, I wondered whether the microchip was still there, and doing what it was supposed to do. It never occurred to me to "scan and check" . To this day, I do not know what happened to her, other than a neighbour thought they saw her run over on the freeway near us.

So, we started scanning all pets when they came in to see us.  And we researched, and got ourselves authorised to check registries for microchip numbers and their details.  After all, having lost a pet of our own, it reminded us that the best chance of our lost pet getting back to us, is an up to date microchip.

And over the years (she went missing in 2003), we began to realise that the next best chance of our lost pet getting back, is to Get Vets Scanning.... in Australia.  Australia wide.

We have started our Lost and Found Pets Facebook page, and we actively tell all pet owners who come to pick up their lost pets (and have copped abuse for it too), to get the details up to date.

So, I am sure you will agree... you are an important part of this process.  You need to ask your vet some important questions, other than worming and vaccinations.... you need to get your vet to scan and check your pet EVERY year...

- to make sure the chip is there
- to make sure the details are up to date
- to make sure your pet doesn't get scared when someone goes over them to be scanned.

If you love your pet, then you will do this.

Get Vets Scanning everyone!

I am Dr Liz, from Russell Vale Animal Clinic.  We are all here to help all pets.