Microchip Identification in Dogs

“So, on those microchips, what kind of range do they
have?”   About three inches.  When people don’t really understand what
microchip identification is, they can have some unrealistic expectations.

MicrochipLook at this little thing: do you see any room for a power
supply?  I mean, I’ve heard of the
“button battery”, but you’d have to have the “grain of millet” battery.  The whole thing is no bigger than a grain of
rice.  There’s just no way you could
track it from the black helicopters.

There are GPS tracking collars, but the units are as big as
a deck of cards.  It just wouldn’t be
practical to implant them under the skin. 

DSCN8458The microchips used for animal identification aren’t big
enough to accommodate a power supply, so they can be easily injected through a
needle.  No sedation is required.  If a dog will accept an injection with the
smaller needles usually used for vaccinations, they usually don’t flinch (even
though a 14-gauge needle looks big enough to scare superman – ask folks who
have them inserted for dialysis treatments).

What you have, then, is an “identification tag” that cannot
be lost, or seen, either, for that matter. 
Since the microchip is invisible, I always recommend that the pet wear
an I.D. tag.  That way, when someone
finds your pet, they can just call you. 

ScannerIf the tag is lost, or the pet winds up in a shelter, or
there is some dispute about the ownership of the animal, the microchip is a
great thing to have.  Chips can be seen
on an X-ray, but you have to use a scanning device to read the number and get
the pet home again.  The number can then
be referenced with databases found on the internet, and then one contacts the

The chips are registered first to the individual who
purchases them from the company.  Some
chips require the pet-owner to register the chip at an additional fee.  Some have the individual registration
included in the price of the chip.  In
the first case, a veterinarian would keep a ledger and put you in touch with
the pet-owner, if the owner had declined to spend the extra money for
individual registration.

That’s the theory, at least. 
But things don’t always work out the way you think they might. 

Won't huntLast week, one of our clients found a stray Beagle and
brought it in to us because the animal control officer was on holiday for the
MLK weekend.  The dog looked a bit rough,
no collar, no sign of identification. He had infections in both ears, and was
wormy. I scanned him for a microchip, not really expecting to find one.  Lo and behold, the scanner beeped to signal
the finding of a microchip and there was the identification number.

Man, I was stoked.  I
always scan, and this time it paid off. 
This dog was going home to his folks… or not.  When I checked the number, it was an
“unregistered microchip”.   We can handle
that.   The next thing is simply to call
the manufacturers and see who bought the chip.

“Well, I’m a breeder, and I sold the dog to Joe Blow.”  And Joe Blow sold him to John Doe because he
wouldn’t hunt to suit him.  And when we
called John Doe, we found that he had sold the dog to Joe Doakes because he wouldn’t
hunt to suit him.  And Joe had sold him
to Billy Bob Bubba and the dog wouldn’t hunt to suit him, either.  He told us to put him to sleep, or find him a

He’s on the way to Beagle rescue now, and he will find a
home, even if it’s in spite of his microchip rather than because of it.  He may not hunt to
suit anybody, but he’s friendly and happy, and will make a good friend.

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