Only the size of a grain of rice, a pet microchip is usually injected just under the skin at the back of the neck of your pet.  The procedure is usually carried out by a veterinarian and is quick and painless.  The chip carries information which is readable by a chip reader, particularly a code which can then be checked against an owners register which can then be used to trace the owner if the pet has turned up at a pound or the police in the event if goes missing.

Kristen Thompson, customer care tech, scans a cat in search of a microchip to identify the pet's owner. (Post / John Leyba)

The Pros

The advantages of inserting a microchip in your pet are numerous:

  • As we have already said, the procedure is quick and causes no pain for your pet;
  • It is highly effective in returning pets to their owners when they go missing;
  • The presence of the microchip and the information contained on the chip register demonstrates who owns the pet in the event someone else takes your missing animal in and decides to give them a “new home”;
  • Microchips are usually used for cats and dogs but they are also eminently suitable for a wide range of other pets and animals, including livestock;
  • The chip reader information is always clear and will never fade unlike a tattoo;
  • Chipping your pet is permanent unlike using a collar and tag; and
  • Shelters and the police will automatically scan a found pet to see if the animal has a chip.

Chipping your pet dramatically increases the odds of being reunited with them if they go missing compared to traditional forms of finding a missing animal.

This is not to say that there aren’t any drawbacks to the micro-chipping your pet.

The Cons

  • Some microchips are not readable by different types of chip reader, so even if your pet is chipped, unless the shelter is operating the appropriate type of reader, your pet’s microchip may not actually be detected and read;
  • Microchips are not visible and there is nothing to say that a pet has been chipped unless there is an additional identifying tag on their collar, though collars and tags may be lost as well – this leads to the possibility that your pet may be “adopted” by the finder who may be blissfully unaware you own the pet;
  • The owner must keep the register updated with their contact information and frequently there are costs involved in maintaining the entry and for making any changes to it;
  • The chip can migrate within your pet’s body which may make it impossible to read with a scanner;
  • Microchips are not GPS tracking devices, so they do not give the animal’s position if it goes missing though many people assume this is in fact the case;
  • The technology is not widely known to the general public who may therefore not know that the pet should be scanned in the first place – this means it is essential to still tag your pet and also to make it clear that there is microchip inserted; and
  • When a pet does go missing, owners with an animal which has been chipped tend to assume the pet will be returned to them because of this.  As a result, they neglect to take action to locate their pet themselves, such as calling the shelters and placing missing posters around the neighborhood.

Asset Tags by Maverick Label – Mark Trumper