Monday, September 28, 2009

Check and Recheck

We were reminded this weekend that we must stay alert and not take our dog's safety for granted.

Sky went to Dogfest with us and had a good time meeting people and other dogs. We stopped at almost every tent and checked out whatever the people there were selling or advocating or teaching.

At one tent there was a vet tech from one of the local vet offices (not ours) and she was teaching about microchips for identification. We told her that all our dogs were chipped when they were puppies. I saw a scanner on her table so I asked her to check Sky's chip to be sure it was reading well.

She stepped out and ran the scanner over Sky's back, but nothing happened. She ran it all over him from side to side and up and down from his head to his tail and still she got no reading.

She was using a scanner that looked like this, but it got no reading from his chip. When we left Dogfest, we went directly to our vet's office and asked the girls to scan him. They did, using two different scanners and nothing registered.

All our puppies were microchipped when they were eight weeks old and the older dogs were done when they were puppies.A tiny chip the size of a grain of rice was implanted between their shoulder blades. The chip has a rough edge that grips onto the muscle and each chip has a unique number that can be read with a scanner.

There are a couple of chips available. Home Again is one and Avid is the one we use. After implantation I registered each number with both Avid and Companion Animal Recovery (CAR) run by the AKC. Each year at their annual checkup I have the chips scanned to be sure they're reading correctly.

Now, suddenly Sky seemed to be unprotected. We're very careful with our dogs. They run loose in our fenced in yard but at all other times they're leashed when outside. Still we all know that unforeseen things happen. Someone might leave a door unlatched, or a gate open. Perhaps a leash might break or simply slip out of a hand. Dogs get loose and dogs get lost. We all know that no matter how careful we are, it can happen to us.

Today we took all our microchip certificates and all out dogs to see Dr B. He scanned everyone. We are very happy to report that all the chips are reading perfectly. The reason Sky's chip wasn't reading the other day was technician error. It seems that the scanner has to be held a certain way in order to locate the chip and register the number. If held flat against the dog, it doesn't work. It needs to be held at an angle.

This in itself is sort of scary. We need to make sure that the people who work at the shelters, including volunteers know how to use the scanner correctly. Those of you who volunteer your time at your local shelter, mention to whoever is in charge that it would be a good idea to have a refresher lesson on how to use the scanner correctly. It could mean life or death for some animals.

Of course it's good to have an ID tag on your animal, too. We all know though that dogs are very good at losing their tags and collars can come undone or be removed. A microchip is there to stay.Don't take chances with your pet's safety. Get them an ID tag and have them microchipped. It doesn't hurt and can help them get back home if they get lost. Be sure to register the chip with one or more registry who will notify you if your animal is found and don't forget to have the chip checked every time you visit the vet. Ask the workers at the local shelters if they have lessons on how to use a scanner and if not make calls to the managers.

It's the life and safety of your pet, be proactive.


Marjie said...

I didn't know there was an angle requirement! Happily, Sean the UPS dude with the cookies is very careful about not letting Thor out the gate, but he has gotten out with others. Also happily, he usually goes to the porch of the house with the dachsunds, and whines until their little boys come out to see him (and they call us).

Hero said...

Great post and a great reminder to all dog owners. I have a microchip and a current ID tag, but Tagpi's ID tag is now out of date. His owners also didn't give us any information about his microchip and where he was registered so we don't know how to change his info. We've been putting it off, but we need to get on making his information up to date soon just in case the worst happens.

Mack and Sally Ann said...

What good advice.

Stella said...

Very good post, Sue. Stella isn't microchipped but I want to get this for her at her next vet visit.

Jo, Stella's Mom

LizzieJane said...

What great info Sue. It must have been real puzzling when they couldn't find Sky's chip.

Martha Basset said...

We also have our two microchipped but to be honest have never thought of having them checked!
They have name tags but when they do occasionally bolt after a deer in the woods we are left with the collar and name tag attached to the lead we were holding!
So we are totally reliant on the microchip and will make sure we have them checked.

Swampechaun said...

Luckily, neither of our dogs has ever been lost. I say luckily because at one time or another both of them have darted out the front door and ran down the street but we quickly found them. Lots of good info - we haven't looked into anything beyond updated tags on their collars.

Channon said...

Being new to the micro chip thing, I'll most certainly have my girls scanned when we go in for Gretchen's first annual visit here soon. Thanks. Sissy's chip hasn't been checked, as far as I know...

Nichole said...

The scariest part is you had not one, but two different places not be able to read the chip because they weren't doing it correctly... that really scares me!!!

The OP Pack said...

Very interesting. Maybe it is a good idea to add to a tag that the dog IS microchipped so they pay extra attention to finding it. Tattooing is another good option.

Woos, the OP Pack

Brownie said...

thank you for the reminder... next time we go to the vet, we'll make sure that my microchip registers!

gaylen said...

Lovely reminder. I especially made sure Abby's was still reading after her spinal surgery. We do have our checked at the yearly exams.

I swear some days raising dogs is harder than raising kids!! Give my boy a big kiss on his nose. g

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue, great post. Thanks for the tips. I hope you are having a lovely week.

parlance said...

Thanks for the reminder. Next time I go to the vet I will have Penny checked.

Another thing I have done is to use a spirit-based marker to write her name and our phone number in big letters on her collar.

Sam said...

I've definitely got to send in the updates to Marge's chip. She's still listed with the rescue organization, and not under my name.

You'll be happy to know that Marge has decided that the exotic Portuguese Water Dogs in class are worth her while, and she is becoming great friends with them. I'll try to take a picture sometime.

Nicki said...

I'm always worried my dog won't get scanned or won't get scanned right. It's scary there is no perfect method to ensure their return.

Maggie and Mitch said...

You're absolutely right - accidents do happen and you can never be too careful! Mitch is chipped and we'll have to make sure all is working well next time he sees his vet!
I always have my collar with tags on!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch