Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Microchipping, your pet, and responsible pet ownership

"We are special - we deserve to be microchipped.
We can't tell you where we live, but we can tell
you when we are lost"
As a vet, I dearly love that that most of the pets I see are absolutely adored and loved. As part of our complete check up, we not only do a complete physical examination, we also check every single pet's microchip and their details.

Now.... here is where I see a huge.... almost massive... disconnect between my own clients who I know love and adore their pets..... and many lost or stray dogs (rarely cats) we see almost daily.

At my last tally, 70% were either not microchipped, or had microchip details which were not accurate or up to date.  And this meant a stressful time for everyone.... for us, the pet (they are not home), and the family from which they came.

From a veterinary hospital perspective, scanning and checking for a microchip is time consuming.  I won't deny that at all, but it is time well spent in my opinion, if it means that if we ever need to rely on that information, we know it is accurate.  Wouldn't you agree?

Checking the database registries, and going through the information with the loving pet owner is also time consuming.  But wouldn't you want to know that the changes that were supposed to have been made on the database were never done (for some reason)?   I know I would!

Every single pet that comes in for a vet check or full consultation have a horrible thing waved above their shoulder blades waiting for a bleep, which indicates that the scanner has read a number.

A number is a number, which means nothing if that number isn't on a database that it is supposed to be on. 

And so, the next thing we do is check the databases to see what information is there, and is it accurate or not.  The main one we check is the Companion Animal Register, which is the database that all NSW based pets need to be on.... by law!

And then we have the stray dogs (and cats), who come in with no sign of any identification on them at all.

What is so hard about microchipping your pet?  

It is not expensive.... and if you love your pet, it shouldn't matter how much it costs... because suffering the loss of a loved pet, and not knowing where they are is so painful, that to ensure that you have taken all steps you can to make sure they come home, is.... what does that mean to you? is it worth whatever?

As for me....Scanning a pet and finding out that
- it is not on the Register at all
- the microchip is in the previous owner's name

-the microchip is in the breeders name and the current owners have owned the pet for many  years
- the microchip is in the address of the current owner from four addresses ago with disconnected phone numbers

- the pet's name and details on the registry is different to the name the current owner or Good Sam claims it is...

Finding out all of the above does not make me feel warm, fuzzy or excited! In fact, it makes me feel sick. It means that people didn't care or didn't care to know what responsible pet ownership actually means in NSW.

I didn't write the laws, and God knows, I opposed the majority of the rules that the NSW Government brought in with respect to the Companion Animals Act, but the law is the law. I may not like it, but I must abide by it.

Recently,  I saw a new pet that had been owned by the current owner for the past 11 years, and it was still in the breeder's name.  Fortunately, this pet never left home, so no harm was done at the end of the day, but what about those pets who have left home.... with lonely owners expecting the chip to bring their pet home.

The other day,  I saw a Maltese Terrier who was brought in as a stray.... it was not microchipped.   And this is a scenario that is almost weekly, rather than a rare occasional occurrence. This is devastating for me and my team, as we are faced with an absolutely gorgeous friendly dog, who through no fault of their own, had no identifying tags or chips to let us know where home was.  By law, this dog had to go to the local pound, where we hope he was able to be re-united with his family.  But I didn't feel good about him going there at all, as it could also mean a death sentence.  Seven days in an unmicrochipped pet.  Criminal, in my view.

I won't go on with stories, as it would end up as long as War and Peace, or the Lord of the Rings!

What does microchipping your pet involve?

If you are new to our practice, then your hand will get weak from the forms you need to fill out, because you will need to fill out
Form 1 - new client form
Form 2- NSW Companion Animal Register Identification form (which is for NSW only)

And.... in accordance with our AVA Microchip Accreditation status (and because we believe in pet recovery first and foremost),

Form 3 - we also place all microchipped pet information onto the National Pet Register.

We are only one of two veterinary hospitals in the Illawarra who are AVA Microchip Accredited, which was a surprise to me when I looked it up.  We have been AVA accredited since the scheme began (after the introduction of the Companion Animals Act in NSW (1998). And we maintain this accreditation through our determination to offer a veterinary grade accredited microchip service at a competitive price.

The actual implanting of the microchip is quick, easy, short - and your pet is usually filled with liver jerky to make the "big needle" that everyone talks about, easier to take.  It really is not a big deal at all where your pet is concerned.

I am Dr Liz, and we love helping animals get back home.  We have a facebook page dedicated to reuniting pets, and we spend many hours weekly dealing with stray pets and getting them home.  Please do the right thing, and have your pet microchipped, and then have that chip checked every year at your pets next  vet visit.

If you need more information, if you have lost or found a pet, do not hesitate to contact us on 02 42845988.

If you have a smart phone, you can download the Pocketvet app - it also has a lost and found pet feature - which means if you have lost a pet, it will send an alert out to all fellow Pocketvet app in our area. Click here for the links to Pocketvet