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Microchips are a permanent form of pet identification that uses a unique number to identify your pet when scanned. This rice-sized identification device is quickly inserted under a pet’s skin with a hypodermic needle, where it usually remains for their lifetime.
Microchip numbers are registered into a lost pet recovery database which links your pet’s unique microchip number to information about them and about you.
When a veterinarian or shelter employee scans a found pet and determines it has a microchip he/she looks to the lost pet recovery registry for the microchip provider and pulls up the contact information associated with that chip.
That’s why it’s vital for pet owners to keep their contact information up to date in the microchip registry or database so they can be reached quickly if their pet is found away from their home. With any luck, that first phone call will begin the process of bringing a lost cat or dog home.
A good practice is to add an emergency contact in each pet’s microchip registration. Consider adding the phone number of a reliable and easy to reach friend or family member as a backup option. Should your cat or dog ever go missing or be injured outside of your home, it will be critical for the person who finds them to be able to contact you as soon as possible.
Case in point, consider these happy tales of reunion that were only possible thanks to microchips:
Prince the Miracle
In early May, a young woman and her small child arrived at the SPCA of Texas Ellis County Animal Care Center. In her arms was a small, injured, male Chihuahua mix they had found on the side of a road in Ellis County. And the saga began!
“I scanned for a microchip and, luckily, the little guy had one,” said Ellis County Animal Care Center Lifesaving Initiatives Coordinator Jennifer Favia Conner. “I called the phone number and reached a woman in Sacramento, Calif. ‘That’s my Mom’s dog,’ she said, and boy was she surprised.
“The woman continued to tell me how her mom’s 13-year-old Chihuahua, Prince, had passed away recently,” Jennifer said.
The woman relayed the story of how the little dog had been missing for almost two weeks when her mom received a call from a neighbor, who found a deceased pup that looked just like Prince. The neighbor wrapped what she thought was her mom’s little buddy up in a blanket and placed him in a box.
Sylvia (the mom) could not bear to look inside the box. The neighbor said it was him, based off the pictures from the flyer Sylvia had posted all around the neighborhood.
Sylvia couldn’t believe it when her daughter called with the news that Prince was alive at the Ellis County Animal Care Center! “When she came to get him, she kept calling him a little miracle and said little Prince was a lot skinnier than the last time she saw him,” smiled Jennifer. “She kept apologizing to him and told him it was the two of them together forever.
“Prince’s back leg was injured, and Sylvia had already called her vet, so off they rushed to get the little guy taken care of right away.”
Jennifer also noted that it was a beautiful reunion for everyone at the Animal Care Center, “Everyone was in tears,” she said. “And the reunion was made possible only because sweet Prince was chipped. He is the dog that came back from the dead!”
LaVina and her husband lived in the countryside near Ennis in Ellis County with their dogs Paco and Snoball until a little more than a year ago, when her mother’s health forced them to relocate to Rosser in Kaufman County. Both dogs were used to not having a fenced space and having the ability to roam during the day.
The move was spread out over several weeks, with LaVina’s husband spending many nights a week at the old house. Snoball stayed there throughout the move and came home every night where plenty of food and water had been left for her. On the final move-out day, Snoball—a Great Pyrenees/Anatolian Shepherd mix—didn’t come home. LaVina and her husband searched and searched for her, with no luck.
“I had to move, and my husband assured me we would keep coming back to look for Snoball, so I left food out for her, and we left. I felt terrible, but there was nothing I could do. I never intended to abandon her.”
LaVina returned to the neighborhood almost daily and drove around looking for Snoball and leaving food for her, with no sightings. “I went back at different times a day for weeks,” she said. “After several months, I started going back once a week, assuming my Snoball was dead.
“Then, in late March of this year, out of the blue comes this call, ‘Do you have a Snoball?’” Lavina smiled. “I was a little hesitant and told the caller, that I did have a dog named Snoball at one time.”
To Lavina’s surprise, it was SPCA of Texas Ellis County Animal Care Center Lifesaving Initiatives Coordinator Jennifer Favia Conner, who told her she had a Snoball at the shelter with a microchip with LaVina’s phone number.
LaVina couldn’t believe it and went right away to the Ellis County Animal Care Center. Jennifer needed LaVina to identify Snoball as hers before letting the dog see her and was obligated to evaluate and bathe her before they could get together.
“The young lady helping me was so kind,” LaVina noted. “She walked me around the run so Snoball couldn’t see me, but I could see her. Snoball started wagging her tail right away—I don’t know how she knew it was me, but she did!” LaVina smiled.
“Jennifer finally said, ‘Oh, go on in’ so Snoball and I just loved on each other for the longest time!
“I am so thankful that I had Snoball microchipped and that someone brought her to the SPCA in Ellis County,” LaVina added.
LaVina came back early the next day to take Snoball to her new home with a fenced backyard. “She’s getting used to the fence,” LaVina said. “She doesn’t like it, but she is getting used to it.”
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