Blog by ISPCA CEO Dr. Andrew Kelly
A few months ago while driving to the ISPCA’s National Animal Centre in Longford, I came across the scene of a road traffic accident in which a small tan and white dog had been struck by a car and was lying at the side of the road. Sadly most cars passed by without even slowing down. Two cars had stopped and the drivers were looking at the dog to see if there was anything they could do to help. I pulled over and introduced myself and offered my assistance. The first driver on the scene informed me that she had called the Gardai who said they would call her back (to my knowledge they never did). I think she was relieved that someone with animal welfare knowledge had arrived at the scene. It was clear that the dog was seriously injured and needed urgent veterinary attention. I offered to take it to the nearest veterinary surgeon which was only a few kilometres away in Ballymahon, Co. Longford. I called ahead to make sure the vet was there, wrapped the dog in a blanket I had in the car and drove straight to the surgery. Sadly the dog died before I could get there. I asked the vet to take care of the body and to scan the dog for the presence of a microchip so that the owner could at least be informed of what had happened. The dog was not micro-chipped. Despite local enquiries the owner was never traced and may still be wondering what happened to their beloved pet.
Every year, thousands of pets go missing and fewer than half are reunited with their owners. Micro-chipping your pet is the most effective way of ensuring that your pet can be identified and returned to you. Collars and identification discs can be slipped off or removed but a microchip is a permanent identification method that will increase the likelihood of an owner being located.
What is a microchip and how does it work?
A microchip is a small electronic transponder about the size of a grain of rice. It is painlessly injected under the animals’ skin. In a dog it is injected under the skin, just between the shoulder blades, using a sterile needle. Microchips contain a unique 15 digit number which can be read using a special scanner which can be found at most vets, local authority dog shelters or animal welfare organisations. If a microchip is discovered, a national database can be checked and the owner notified. If your details change, such as moving house, you should contact the database operator to update your contact details.
How much will it cost?
It will cost around €20 - €30 to get your pet micro-chipped and can be done by your vet. Animal welfare organisations may offer reduced price micro-chipping for those on benefits. If you get a rescue dog, most animal welfare organisations, including the ISPCA, micro-chip the dog before they are rehomed – so please consider adopting a dog from a reputable rescue centre.
Do it now!
Don’t put off getting your pet micro-chipped. Don’t wait until it is too late – do it now. The government is proposing to make micro-chipping for dogs compulsory in 2016 so you will have to do it eventually, but why wait. Micro-chipping gives you peace of mind that if your dog gets lost, goes missing or is stolen, the chances of it being returned to you will be significantly greater.
The owner of the dog at the beginning of this blog may never find out what happened to their dog. It’s a no-brainer – be a responsible dog owner and get your dog micro-chipped today!
Dr Andrew Kelly
Next month – The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013: what all animal owners need to do to ensure they are complying with the lawViewed 1549 times.