If you will be shipping your pet by air, especially to another country, chances are they will need a microchip because most foreign countries require them as part of the pet import process. Beyond that specific requirement, however, microchips are a must-have for every precious kitty or pup, regardless of whether they are on the move.
A collar and tags are not enough to protect your beloved pet. Tags wear out. Collars come off. A lot of cats don’t even have collars. A microchip can’t come off or wear out, so it’s the only way you can permanently identify your pet. Since the chips are designed to last 25 years, implantation is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
A microchip shouldn’t replace a collar and tags, though. It can only be read with a proper scanner, and then your pet’s ID number must be matched with your contact information. That works fine when you’re shipping your pet or if he gets lost and winds up at a shelter, but if he wanders off around the neighborhood, the people who find him won’t have a scanner. They’ll have to rely on your pup’s tags to reunite you.
Proper ID is essential when shipping your pet.
To travel by air, your pet must have documentation that includes a US health certificate, verification she has been vaccinated against rabies and other diseases and import paperwork specific to the destination country. Her unique microchip number must be recorded on all these documents. If necessary, the microchip can be scanned and the number compared to prove the animal is really yours and the health documents are really hers.
There are two crucial things you need to know about microchips:
- They make a monumental difference.The American Humane Association says more than 10 million dogs and cats go missing every year in the US, and only those with a microchip stand much chance of being reunited with their distraught pet parents.
- They are worthless if they are not registered.The Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association conducted a study of 53 animal shelters around the country, and learned that although many lost pets did indeed have microchips, a whopping 58% of those chips had never been formally registered. So the shelters could scan an animal’s microchip to learn its ID number, but then they had no way to match the number with the animal’s owner.
What does the microchip do?
It is a tiny RFID transponder (radio-frequency identification device). When a hand-held scanner passes over it, the chip transmits your pet’s ID number along with the phone number of its associated owner registry. The microchip does not contain your contact information, so it’s impossible for anyone to obtain your personal data simply by scanning your pet’s microchip.
Microchips also come with a tag for your pet’s collar that shows the ID number and registry phone number. A microchip is not the same as a GPS, so it cannot serve as a lost pet locator.
There are several brands of microchips, each with their own companion registry -- a database that vets, shelters and customs officials can access to find or verify a pet’s owner. This is why it is essential that you keep your personal information updated – it should be one of your top priorities when you move to a new location, whether it is across town or halfway around the world.
The 2-step microchipping process is easy.
Your vet can implant a microchip in your pooch or feline quickly and simply. Some animal shelters also provide this service. For your pet, it’s essentially like getting a vaccination shot – the microchip, which is about the size of a rice grain, is pre-loaded in a special syringe, and it’s inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades. Cost is in the neighborhood of $45.
You must then officially register the microchip by sending your contact information to the microchip manufacturer. Pet parents who adopt or purchase a dog or cat that already has a microchip must contact the appropriate registry to update the ownership/contact information.
Different microchip brands use different signal frequencies, but the newest microchips meet universal international standards so they can be read using any device, anywhere. Countries that require microchips if you’re shipping your pet generally also require that your pet’s chip meet these standards or be replaced with one that does.
Shipping your pet can sometimes be emotionally difficult for humans. Microchips not only provide unassailable identification for your dog or cat, they provide unparalleled peace of mind for you. Don't make a mistake by choosing not to place a microchip in your pet. There are many mistakes pet owners make when they are moving their pets, make sure you take the necessary steps to make sure your pet is safe!