Sunday, June 14, 2015

Microchipping your pet and knowing its working is priceless

It is only when a pet goes missing, that a pet owner's eyes is opened to the devastation and loss of what many others have gone through, and are still going through.

It is at that time that they often

1. wish that they had their pet microchipped
2. wish that they had updated that information
3. wish that they had taken the time to get that new pet tag
4. wish that they had taken more photographs of their pet that would be suitable for a "pet" poster
5. feel guilty for doing none of the above.

The reason why they never got it done is usually because they all assumed that their pet would never escape or run away. 

Our kids love our pets so much - for them, do the right thing by your pet.
Sadly, we are dealing with animals, that no matter how much we love and they love us, will still find themselves alone and away from home at some point in their life.  

And the only way they are going to get home is either through their tag, their microchip or through the age old method of pounding the streets and sharing photographs/posters/social media.

In NSW it is compulsory for all dogs and cats to be microchipped - whether they ever go outside of the house or not!  Sadly, as a vet, I am seeing too many stray cats unmicrochipped all because of this mistaken belief.

Equally sadly, I am seeing too many stray dogs who are unmicrochipped, which sets up a dilemma for all of those who work tirelessly in getting lost pets back home.  The Companion Animal Act is very clear in that all animals must be taken to the local council pound.
Microchipping is cheap, getting your pet home again ..... priceless!

Most often, this is the best place for pets to be reunited with their family.  The sad reality is, the fines and fees can mean many owners elect not to get their pet. 

Now onto a common fear of owners of lost pets -  has the microchip  moved, or perhaps is no longer functional? They ask the question "is it possible"?

The answer is "Yes", but it is an easy fear to solve.  You should be taking your pet to the vet at least two to three times a year anyway, so this is a perfect opportunity for your pet to have their microchip scanned and checked. Russell Vale Animal Clinic is an Accredited Microchip Centre with the Australian Veterinary Association, AND and Authorised Microchip Identifier with the NSW Government, so we, like many other veterinarians equally accredited and authorised are there, willing and able to help you and your pets.

Just in case you were hung up on the multiple vet visits?  You should be visiting us for your pet's  Annual Vet Check, as well as their six monthly dental check, and their arthritis check (at the very least).

We have been checking our pet's microchips for over ten years now, which always includes checking the information on the databases.  One of  our very "soapbox" points is the accuracy of the information on the microchip databases, as well as the recoding of "Alternate Contact" details - which should be someone who is a friend or relative that doesn't go away on holidays with you, and that is easily contactable (oh, and it helps if they are not one to change addresses or phone numbers).

What about the use of technology?  There are many pet apps out there, but we use and recommend PocketVet. The links to that are here. You can keep up to date photos of your pet in there, and if your pet goes missing, it will send notifications to all local users who also have the PocketVet app on their phones.

There are many lost and found pet services out there, including social media, so go here to get that list.

What about something as simple as a tag on your pet's collar?  

That is easy to do, and makes things so much simpler for everyone.  And in NSW, it is compulsory for all dogs to have a collar and tag.

Don't let the disappearance of your pet fill you with the regrets of all of the things you should've done.  Act now.

I am part of many of the local and national "lost pet" pages, and all too frequently, when there is a pet that is found, someone will always say "I'll take it".  We have also come across situations of people who, even with the best, generous intentions, take in a lost pet, feed, house, clean it etc, and take on the responsibilities of a pet owner, but fail to take the first most important step - to take it to a vet to be scanned for a chip, or to take all measures to find the owners.

Never assume that because the dog or cat  is in poor condition, that the previous owner did not love it or care for it. There are many pets who  have been missing for a week will lose a dramatic amount of weight, and if you have been missing for months to years, it would not be hard for a maltese terrier's coat to not get matted, or for the flea numbers to build up.

You have to realise that every stray pet has an owner.

 How would you feel if your pet went missing, and someone else found it months later in a poor state, and made no attempts to find out who the owner was all because of how it looked.  You would be devastated!  So don't do it to someone else.

To make it easy for you, here is your "Action List"

1.  Get a decent photo of your pet.
2. Download a pet care app on your phone. We recommend and use PocketVet.  Links are here. Add your pet's details and of course, a gorgeous photo of them.
3. Take your pet down to your vet to have their microchip scanned
4. Ask your vet to check the databases for your pet's microchip details.
5. Check your pet's tag - is it up to date, can you read the numbers - if not, get a new one NOW!
6. For a free tag, visit here. 

Once you have done all that, pat yourself on the back for a job well done! 

A good photo of "Ol George" (RIP) a Stray who stayed!
Finally, if you choose to have a pet as part of your family, they are never going to be free.  They will cost you money, and sometimes, more money than you may be prepared to spend on them.  If you are never going to be willing or able to do that, then do not blame others for the fees/fines that are charged.  Its not their fault that you have failed to take your pet ownership responsibility seriously.

All of us at Russell Vale Animal Clinic thank you, the loving pet owner, and all of those animal lovers out there who go out of their way to rescue dogs and cats who are found wandering the streets, wanting to get back home.

I am Dr Liz, the mad vet from Bellambi Lane. I look after the dogs and cats.  We are located in the northern suburbs of Wollongong, in Russell Vale, on the beach side of Bellambi Lane off Memorial Drive.

Any questions, do not hesitate to contact me via email or call us on 02 42845988.