by Barry KuKes
Many people do not think about Halifax Humane So-ciety as a lost and found center, but reuniting lost pets with their owners is a vital part of our mission. Just today, we reunited a Quaker Monk Green Parrot with its owner in Deltona. The parrot was so happy to see its owner it began saying, “watcha doing?” a phrase the owner had stated the bird knew in an e-mail prior to seeing the bird. There was no doubt its rightful owner had been reunited with their parrot.
Did you know you can microchip a bird? Having your pets microchipped is strongly recommended. Last year, we reunited over 500 animals with their owners. Still, thousands of animals did not have that opportunity due to not being microchipped or even having a collar with ID tags. April 23rd was to be National Lost Dog and Cat Awareness Day. Petco Love is promoting their new facial recognition technology that will help reunite pets and owners. One in 3 pets will become lost during their lifetime. New technology like facial recognition, microchips, collars with tags, pet registries, and more will help turn a lost pet into a found pet. If you have a pet, you can register an image of their face at https://lost.petcolove.org
I am amazed at the number of pets that find their way to our shelter doors that do not have a collar or ID tag, much less a rabies tag or pet license. I guess collars do fall off, or tags can be removed from a collar during an altercation, but a microchip never falls off. The cost of a microchip ranges from $16 to $30, depending on the provider, but even if the cost is $30, isn’t that a small price to pay to protect your best friend from becoming homeless?
A microchip is not a GPS. It does not emit a signal to show us the location of the animal. The chip has the pet’s name, the owner’s name, contact information, etc. Once the pet is scanned with a handheld scanner (no pain whatsoever), the veterinarian or shelter can contact the owner with the excellent news that their pet has been found.
Last year, a dog named Ashley ran off from home in Savannah, GA. She made it all the way to our shelter in Daytona Beach, over 240 miles south. Unfortunately, Ashley was not microchipped. Luckily, an animal advocate saw Ashley’s photo on the HHS website and matched it to a Facebook lost and found pet page. Ashley was reunited with her owner a day later, but had a microchip been implanted, Ashley would have been reunited a few days earlier.
Is there any good reason not to microchip your pets? I guess if you can’t afford the $20-$30 or need that money to feed yourself and your pet, that would be a reason. In this case, please take a photo of your pet and upload it to the Petco site. At least if your pet does go missing, it can be identified through facial recognition software. This is a free service, and thus cost is no longer an issue.
Many years ago, two of my dogs were lost. My roommate let them out without checking to make sure the gates were closed. I was worried sick because I lived on a bustling street at the time. Luckily the dogs were found together, and the person who found them called the number on their ID tags. There were no microchips back then, but I cared enough about my pets to make sure they both had collars and tags. Losing a pet can be a very stressful experience. If you think your pet will never go missing, think again. House cats can scoot out a door, dogs can jump over fences, leashes can break, etc. Let’s make an effort to eliminate pets getting lost. As always, adopt, don’t shop.
Barry KuKes is the Community Outreach Director for the Halifax Humane Society. You can reach Barry at 386.274.4703, ext. 320, or BarryK@halifaxhumanesociety.org