Lost pets are reunited with their owners in three out of four cases when they are microchipped. California legislators are considering a law that will require every cat or dog adopted at an animal shelter to be implanted with a lifesaving microchip.
If passed, Senate Bill 702, introduced by state Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance would be the first mandatory pet microchip law enacted in the United States.
Sharon Curtis Granskog, spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medical Association told the Associated Press, “A few states require shelters to scan, but do not require them to actually microchip. New York has introduced a bill every year, including this year that would make microchipping dogs mandatory.” So far that bill has failed.
In addition to saving lives, lawmakers believe the microchip law would save taxpayers money. According to the Cities and Counties Annual Reports, Californians currently “pay about $300 million every year to impound 1 million dogs and cats, house them and euthanize half of them.”
In preparation for the new law, hundreds of pet owners attended the “Microchip Your Pet Clinic” at the State Capitol in Sacramento, reported ABC News 10.
“Lost pets that are not microchipped have only a 13 percent chance of being reunited with their owners. When they have microchips they have a 74 percent chance of going back home,” Senator Lieu told the crowd at the clinic.
One woman who rescued a little Chihuahua named LaBelle from the side of the road explained how she had taken the dog to a veterinarian to see if she was microchipped. The dog did not have a chip, but lucky for LaBelle the woman decided to keep her.
LaBelle proudly received her microchip at the clinic.
Aimee Gilbreath, executive director for Found Animals reminded people that chips are not full-proof and require a little work from pet owners. It is up to the pet guardian to register a microchip with their current contact information and pay a registration fee to a database company that can range from $15 to $75.
“They are not LoJacks or GPS devices,” said Gilbreath. “If you as a pet owner don’t keep the information up to date in the database, the microchip becomes pretty useless.” Found Animals has donated 200,000 free chips since 2005.
However, when properly implanted and registered, statistics show that microchips save lives. They are also helpful in reuniting pets after natural disasters or if cats and dogs get lost during a vacation.
Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are injected into the tissue between an animal’s should blades. It uses a “radio frequency” that allows a special scanner to read a number that is identified with a specific pet.
Opponents of the bill say that chips move around on a dog’s body and cannot always be detected. And some accuse microchips of causing tumors and cancer.
Supporters acknowledge that chips can “migrate on an active dog,” but can be found; …”it just means scanning a wider swath.” The AP also interviewed four veterinarians about microchips causing cancer and all of them stressed that “problems are unlikely when chips are inserted properly.”
Lawmakers are optimistic SB 702 will pass in mid-August.
Photo from ianphillips via flickr.