Monday, July 22, 2013

When your whole world exists in a grain of rice.

In doing research for this blog I came across a shocking was reported in a large veterinary journal that with the down turn in the economy, that dognapping was up by at least 40%. In doing further research I found a report by CBS News New York, that they were seeing an increase of 70%.

Regardless of the numeric value, the loss of a pet and the reasons they are stolen are shocking.

Many pets are being stolen for terrible as it is to confess, if your dog goes missing this is the scenario you should hope for..That some other pet-loving, pet-caring person will buy your pet to love as their own. That on their first new pet visit to the vet (three days after adopting), that they will say "Yes! of course I want to microchip my pet!" and that your microchip will come up and they will call you and tell you that although they "love this pet they understand that it wasn't really theirs fairly to begin with." But, sadly, this isn't the only reason they are taken.

Hard as it is for me to say this, or even believe that there are people on this planet who are capable of being as terrible as the papers report, there are people who steal pets as food for their "other pets." This includes stealing/taking kittens, gerbils, mice, rats, rabbits, etc. for their snakes and other carnivores to eat. After all, your free pet is cheaper then them having to buy pet food..

Or they are used as bait, (I don't even like this term when used in reference to worms for fish). Bait is how peoplke in the dog fighting world "train" their dogs..vomit!

Or your pet is sold for research. Although in all honesty I know that the major "reputable" (hard to use in this sentence) institutions buy their animals (I still call them pets, because I have a beagle-child) from breeding facilities that birth and raise them for sale as research subjects..(vomit again). I remember being in vet school and seeing a poster with a beautiful regal beagle sitting as pretty-at-attention as he could and the ad reading something to the effect of "obedient, quiet, healthy, beagles ready for your research. Please contact..." I had to stop and read it about a dozen times. I didn't, couldn't, wouldn't believe that it was true. To this day it is my clockwork orange nightmare.

Microchip gear.
Scanner (universal to read ALL types of microchips, paperwork, syringe,
and the microchip aka 'grain of rice' inside the loop of the scanner.

For those of you who do not know, or understand what a microchip can do for your pet, let me explain.

A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It is provided in a sterile needle with its own syringe. The needle is larger than those routinely used to administer a vaccine. It does look bigger, don't get me wrong, but if it is placed by someone who knows how to inject it and is comfortable doing it, it is quick and relatively painless.

Think that you don't believe me? Well, I will tell you that although I have never had a microchip placed in myself, I do routinely give them to 1 to 2 pound kittens.

Why? well, because a microchip is the most sure fire way to reunite you both.

If your pet ends up at a shelter you have about 3 to five days to get them. Or they may, and often do if they are an adult cat, end up in the dead pile in the freezer. I know of a person right now whose cat was euthanized within 30 minutes, MINUTES, of entering a shelter. He knew it had accidentally slipped out the door when his pet sitter came to feed him. They called the shelters immediately. Left a message about their cat, and were NEVER called back. Their cat ended up there, freaked out because it was terrified and the shelter, against their own state mandated protocol euthanized it.

Microchips can be placed when your pet is under anesthesia, and most veterinary clinics offer this service at the time of spaying or neutering. Here is my concern with this..IF you have a baby, a kitten, or puppy, these are the prime napping subjects. People who steal a puppy or kitten want to steal an 8-16 week old. These are the easiest and most expensive to sell. I don't want you to wait for your pet to be stolen to need a microchip!

When I started designing our veterinary clinics protocols I had a tough time convincing people to pay for the $25 microchips. Even if we offered them at the time of spaying and neutering and under general anesthesia. So I decided to offer them for free with every examination.

Our current protocol is to microchip every pet at their first examination. So far I would estimate that over 90% of the pets that Jarrettsville Veterinary Center serves are microchipped.

Why is it not 100%, well, because there is no such thing as 100% in a world where people have free choice.

I still find myself saying daily, "I am giving your pet a microchip that costs me $12 each because although I hope you and your pet never ever need it, if your pet gets lost, or separated from you, I know that that little grain of rice is the best way to get you both reunited." I have many years of experience of people that I had to beg to give their pet a chip comeback to me and say "Thank Goodness you convinced us to do it because....insert every possible crazy story here..."

I have had clients whose house had caught on fire. The fire department rushed in and therefore the pets rushed out. It took weeks and weeks for them to be found. Some ended up at the shelter and they were quickly returned home because of that chip.

There are countless stories of families being reunited years later, halfway across the country, because of a little piece of rice.

Those ten percenters at my clinic, well, some of them think that the microchips cause cancer. They do not!

And some do not want to stake claim on their own pet..shameful! Yes, I said that out loud.

And some think that there is some hidden secret agenda, because "free is too god to be true." Beat head against wall and shuffle on.

One last word of mention, those little grains of rice are only as good as the information behind them. If you do not keep your information current then the microchip company will not be able to find you when someone finds your pet.

Here is my advice for that; Every January, when you make your New Years resolution, go dig out your pets file, call the microchip company and double check your pets information. OR, in the unfortunate case that your pet is lost call them and confirm your information that they have on file.

If, you are as disorganized as I am, you can call the veterinary office that your pet had their chip placed in and ask them for the information.

One more helpful hint. If you do change vets ask them to scan your pet, (we do this at every annual exam, it is frightening how many pets that we believe are chipped seem to have lost them, not to scare you, but this has happened). We also enter the pets microchip number in our database.

When a pet is found in my town, we immediately scan for their microchip. We know within seconds who is and is not a JVC patient.

Want to know some of our microchip stories?
Just ask,,

Think that your pet is never out of your sight?

Well, so did these clients..(apres arm twisting)...

1. You go on vacation and your house is broken into...broken window = escape route for scared pets.
2. You get in a car accident on the way to the vets, the groomers, Burger King for a midnight snack.
3. Your jilted partner kidnaps your best friend..
4. You refuse to use a cat carrier, and prefer to carry your cat into our clinic where before you can enter it decides to make a break for spend the next month in our back field trying to convince them to return home.

A last tid-bit..In big letters on your pets collar put the words "I AM MICROCHIPPED." So that when your pet is found the finder knows to go seeking a microchip scanner.

For the full article listed above Dognapping

If you have any questions, or tid-bits of your own to add please leave a comment.

You can find me @FreePetAdvice, or too.

And if you want a free microchip for your pet come see me at the clinic!


  1. Great article and great advice; however, the microchip industry is in a terrible mess. I hope your readers also go to:
    The blog explains the many problems associated with chips and why you need to register your pets with as many groups as possible. It also turns out "universal" scanners aren't truly universal and may not read some chips.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Hello Betty,

      Thanks for reading and for your comment.

      I agree that the microchip world is far from perfect. And there appears to be no easy way to resolve the differences that preclude us from offering a sure fire way to protect all of our pets. BUT I do think that it is far better to chip than to not. If we see a microchip, even if we can't read it because we do not have the correct scanner, it buys a pet more time, and there is a stronger belief that that pet is "owned."

      I have spoken about Tagg, the GPS tracker and think that this is a great product also. It allows you to monitor your pets movements and to track them should they wander off.

      In the end it is imperative that pet parents understand that responsible pet care includes; training, direct oversight at all times, dedication, due diligence, and providing a safe environment. Sure accidents happen but the consequences can be significantly reduced with education and proper preparation.

      Thank You for your comment