The microchip is considered the best permanent method of pet identification by vets, animal organisations and general authorities. A pet should be identified with a microchip as well as with a collar and an identification tag but the microchip is a much more effective system since collars and tags can easily be removed and/or replaced.
A microchip is a tiny capsule (slightly bigger than a grain of rice) that is implanted behind your pet's shoulder blades. This small capsule will hold a unique identification number that can be read by a scanner. After your pet is microchipped you must register your contact details with the microchip company and these will be associated with your pet's unique microchip number.
This method of identification has many advantages. It greatly increases the chances of being reunited with your pet if he or she ever gets lost. Hundreds of pets are lost and stolen every year and sadly many of them never go back to their owners and to their families due to lack of identification. Whoever finds them has absolutely no idea where they come from or how to contact their owners.
Nowadays not only vets but also animal rescue organisations, dog wardens and even local authorities have microchip scanners. If a dog is microchipped and gets lost, once it has been found and scanned, your name and contact details will quickly be provided and your pet can promptly be returned to you. This is why it is so important to keep your details up to date on the microchip company database. Please remember to keep this information updated if you move home or change phone numbers.
Microchipping also promotes responsible pet ownership since it is an effective way to identify owners that allow their pets to roam free and cause trouble, it allows to trace puppies back to their breeder and therefore deal with possible puppy mill situations, it allows to identify owners in suspected cases of animal cruelty and it would also improve canine health in a long term, since it would be easier to register hereditary health problems and gradually reduce its incidence through responsible breeding.
Recently the government has announced that microchipping will soon be compulsory for all dogs in England from April 2016 onwards. Hopefully this decision will help reunite more owners with their lost pets and relieve some of the burden on animal charities and local authorities.
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