According to the National Council on Pet Population Study, about 1 million stray dogs and half a million stray cats are turned into shelters across the nation each year. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of those dogs and a measly 2 percent of the cats are ever reunited with their owners. Why is this number so low? One of the reasons could be that owners neglect to properly identify their pets.

There are several ways to identify your pet. You can use a collar, identification tag, tattoo, or microchip. A collar is fine, but without any identification on the collar, it’s pretty much a fashion statement with no purpose. Identification tags are great if the collar stays put and if the identification tag has accurate information. Tattoos aren’t a bad idea, especially if you live in an area where pets are stolen and sold for research (most laboratories won’t test on animals that have tattoos showing they belong to someone). But unless the tattoo has information linking your pet to you, they aren’t worth much either. Microchipping is the only permanent identification that is truly your pet’s ticket home.

Microchipping involves the injection of a tiny chip (about the size of a grain of rice) with a needle and special syringe just under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. The chip is housed in a type of glass made to be compatible with living tissue. The process is similar to receiving a shot and no anesthesia is necessary for implantation. Once in place, the microchip can be detected immediately with a handheld device that uses radio waves to read the chip. This device scans the microchip, and then displays a unique alphanumeric code that will be entered into a database with your information.

Most animal shelters check every stray pet that comes through their doors to see if they have a microchip. If a microchip is found, the shelter contacts the database to find your information. Although there are at least four different microchip frequencies marketed in the United States, most animal shelters and veterinary clinics have universal microchip scanners, which can read multiple microchip frequencies sold by the different microchip manufacturers.

Microchips are said to last 20 years, so there is no need to remove or replace it in the duration of a pet’s lifetime. Although microchipping seems to be catching on, according to the Coalition for Reuniting Pets and Families, less than 5 percent of all pets are microchipped.

Although microchips are a lifesaver, don’t rely on it as your pet’s only means of identification. While your area shelter may have a microchip scanner, your neighbor probably doesn’t, so a collar with an identification tag may get your pet home faster. Identification tags should include your pet’s name, your name, and your current contact information. Since pets – especially cats – often become separated from their collar and tags, by providing your pet with both tags and a microchip can help ensure a happy reunion in the event that your beloved pet becomes lost.

S.B. Shelters that Microchip

Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP) has just begun microchipping all the cats at their shelter at no cost to the adopter. This registration is valid for the life of the cat. It is the responsibility of the adopter to keep their contact information updated. The first year subscription comes with insurance from Home Again in the instance that the cat is injured and needs veterinary care while lost.

DAWG microchips all their dogs before they are adopted at no additional cost. Currently, as part of their pitbull spay/neuter program, they offer free spaying and neutering to pitbulls and pitbull mixes, as well as vaccines and microchipping at the time of the surgery. They can only do this if they are spaying or neutering the dog, so they don’t offer chips or vaccines to pitbulls that are already spayed or neutered.

K9 Pals hopes to be offering free microchips for every dog adopted starting Saturday, December 5, at the Holidays Adoption Fair.

Santa Barbara County Animal Services offers microchipping for dogs and cats for only $40. This includes registration fee. No appointment is necessary.

Santa Barbara Humane Society microchips all their cats and dogs before they are adopted. The microchip is included in the price of the adoption. The Santa Barbara Humane Society is holding afternoon microchip clinics by appointment only. Call the clinic Monday Friday, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., or 2-4 p.m. for an appointment 964-4777 x20. The cost is $15 for members. Membership fee starts at $25/year.

On Sunday, November 15, 12-3 p.m. you can microchip your dog for $11. Event takes place at Dioji K-9 Resort & Athletic Club, 7340 Hollister Avenue in Goleta. Minimum donation to DAWG (cash/check only please).

Animal News

On Tuesday, November 10, the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 in favor of the proposed spay/neuter ordinance. This means that pet owners who want to keep their dog or cat intact will have to get a veterinary certificate. Once irresponsible pet owners start fixing their pets, this will begin to help reduce shelter overcrowding and euthanasia.

If you can, take a moment to thank the supervisors who voted for the ordinance:

Salud Carbajal:

Janet Wolf:

Doreen Farr:


Adoptable Pet of the Week

Molly is a three-year-old spayed female pit bull terrier mix, 57 lbs. She has a great temperament, knows basic commands, and is absolutely stellar with kids as well as adults. She never met a dog she didn’t like. Molly is an easy, well behaved girl, an excellent family dog.


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