BY KENDYL COUNTS
Few things are more disheartening than when a beloved pet slips away, running so fast that in a moment, they are nothing more than a needle in a residential haystack. Those who lose pets are often quick to type up flyers and post them around the neighborhood, desperately hoping that someone will spot their companion and call the number provided.
What if, however, the flyers are overlooked? What if someone finds the pet, and it has escaped from the constraints of its collar, leaving its identification behind?
Fortunately for the residents of Cooper City, the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the VCA Rock Creek Animal Hospital team up annually to provide the free “Chip-a-pet” program, held this year on April 1, at the BSO Cooper City district office. Here, they insert microchips into pets that, when scanned by a deputy, will provide the identification of their owner to the chip manufacturer so that they may be contacted.
“The program is beneficial to animal owners because microchipping your pet gives BSO Cooper City deputies the ability to scan a loose pet and immediately identify the owner,” BSO community involvement specialist Linda Victor said. “This saves deputies time and most importantly quickly reunites the pet with their family.”
Though the Rock Creek Animal Hospital isn’t going to be chipping parrots or goldfish, the service is open to cats and dogs of Cooper City residents. Two pets per household are eligible to receive the service, which will be conducted in fifteen-minute intervals between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. that day.
While the microchip doesn’t have GPS tracking capabilities, it is still an essential step for responsible pet owners to take. According to the National Pet Microchip Registration Database, a study of more than 7,700 stray animals at animal shelters revealed that dogs with microchips were returned to their owners 52.2% of the time, compared to 21.9% of the time for those without. Cats with microchips were reunited with their owners 38.5% of the time, as opposed to 1.8% of the time for cats that were not chipped.
Found pets lacking identifying tags risk being sent to a pound or shelter. If an owner is unaware that their pet is being held in a facility and still thinks them lost among the trees, they may not know to check these locations. Additionally, if a pet that is running loose manages to travel a greater distance before it is found, the owner is far less likely to check with pounds and shelters that are not local. If the animal remains unclaimed for too long, it might be re-adopted, or in some cases, put down.
“Sending an unidentified pet to the animal shelter has a cost, both financially and emotionally,” Victor said. “If that pet is not claimed within a reasonable time, it could be euthanized.”
For those who are apprehensive about posting their contact information on signs around the city, this option provides privacy yet remains an effective way to locate the owners of found pets. With the contact information of the owner available on a need-to-know basis, advertising attempts and prank calls will surely be kept to a minimum.
Even the most protective pet parents can jump on this bandwagon. The microchip is as small as it sounds, often about the size of a grain of rice. It is inserted beneath the pet’s skin using a hypodermic needle, and is no more painful than a typical injection that they might receive.
“We microchipped our cat in case it runs away,” freshman Grant Golin said. “They feel a quick pinch, but it’s ultimately worth it.”
When it comes to man’s best friend, many would rather be safe than sorry. To make an appointment for your pet, call 954-432-9000 ext. 249, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address and phone number along with your pet’s name, breed, age and weight before the spots are filled.