Practical > Companion Animals & Urban Wildlife > Companion Animals

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Wish I could tell you where I live

Question: Why do you (a group with no-name, speaking for the animals with no voice) care'?

Answer: We have no financial interest in the success or failure of this program. We simply love and care about animals. We know the pain of being separated from a pet.  We know that many thousands of people and pets are unnecessarily subjected to that pain.  We also know that if this system were implemented, most separations, regardless if caused by disaster or because a pet is lost or stolen, would be temporary, and reunions would be the rule rather than the exception.

Question: What is a microchip?

Answer: It is a capsule about the size of a grain of rice.  It is encased in the same biocompatible glass that is used in human pacemakers to prevent rejection from the animal's body.  The insertion procedure is similar to administering a vaccine shot.  You cannot see the implanted microchip but, when scanned a unique number that is registered to that animal is shown. 

Question: Why do we need an 'American Standard' for microchips sold in this country?

Answer: Because in an effort to corner the market, chip manufacturers have sold pet owners chips that can only be read by the scanner they, themselves and only themselves, also manufacture.  The result is that it requires multiple scanners to be purchased and maintained and duplication of scanning efforts when a pet is lost.  This is simply not in the best interest of our pets.   ONE SCANNER must be able to read all brands of chips.

Question: After the Katrina disaster, we understand legislation is in congress that would require 'State and local emergency preparedness operational plans address the needs of individuals with household pets following a major disaster or emergency.'   Is this true'?

Answer: Yes, this is true and the bill is called HR 3858.  Congressional members backing this bill should be applauded for understanding that Americans with companion animals (60% of the population) don't consider their pets as disposable toys.  The bill is well worded and identifies what needs to be done. Unfortunately, it just doesn't tell how to get the job accomplished.  Our system would supply cities, counties and states the tools needed to make good their promise to rescue and reunite the animals with the rest of their family.

Question: Wow!  Wouldn't micro-chipping all pets and then registering at regular intervals be expensive'?

Answer: Naturally, there will be costs, but we sincerely believe that they will be very minimal.  Chips now are very expensive because: (1) Only a small portion of our animal population is chipped;  (2) Corporate shenanigans have kept competition out of the market which allows them to control pricing.  The registration services mostly used today have a one-time fee of $12.50 - $20.00.   However, in our opinion, having only ONE registration service with expanded capabilities would provide a far superior service. 

This is just a guess, but we believe the cost of a chip, done once in a lifetime, could be under $10.00 and we think the registration service could end up costing $5.00 to $10.00 per year.  Mind you, we will eliminate the dog license which, depending upon where you live, now cost $10.00/$20.00 per year.  (More for unaltered pets)

Question: Why don't the existing registration services work'?

Answer: The first part of the problem is the fact that there are so many 'registration services' and by virtue of so many, there may as well be none.  The second part of the problem is that the registrations are done only once in the lifetime of the animal, and people move, sell or give away the pet and, as you can imagine, the existing services have huge databases full of obsolete information.

Let's assume you and your pet are registered with one of these existing services, and you become separated.  It does you no good to call the service because the only way they can help is if, and when, your animal ends up at a place that has a scanner (normally a shelter), and if they scan it with the correct scanner, and take the time to call the correct registration service and if all the information the registration service has on you is still current and correct, you get your pet back.  (Once, I called with a chip number belonging to a parrot that I found in Oregon, and the database had that number registered to a cat, owned by a veterinarian in Louisiana!)

Question: Are you suggesting we should not bother chipping our animals under the current flawed system?

Answer: No way ' please chip and register your pets NOW.  The current system is the best thing we have going. I'm just saying our pets deserve a better system and we can, and should, give it to them.

Question:  Why would I want my pets microchipped since they have collars with identification and never leave my house?

Answer:  A collar containing proper identification can truly be a lifesaver; however, all too often when a pet is separated from its family, the collar doesn't stay with them.  And as to claiming your pet is never out of your control ' Never say 'Never.'

Question: Don't you think most people would be concerned with this being part of another bureaucratic agency'?

Answer: We have heard thousands of good reasons to lack confidence in anything run by the government but they are the logical providers of this service.  The private sector has shown that corporate profits are more important than doing the right thing for our companion animals.  The government already has the Animal Control/Services Departments throughout the country where they have knowledgeable animal people employed.   They have the computer program knowledge, as this system would be similar to DMV or the Social Security office data base program.  They should also be anxious to embrace this concept, as it would create a much larger income opportunity than the current dog license program provides.  

Question: What information should be given to the registration service'

Answer: The information fields in the database should include, at least, the following:

The name, address, phone, fax, cell, email address of the pet's owner''

Name, phone number, address etc. of an alternate contact person''.

Name, phone number, address etc. of the pet's veterinarian'

The Pet's name, species and description''

Other forms of proof of identity'

Micro Chip #'''

Second microchip #, if any----

Other Information recommended would include:

Owner's Drivers license number''..

Spay/Neutered''''''  (Consider giving the owner who neutered their pet a discounted price)

Last Rabies vaccination date'''

Pets past medical record''..

Comments/History/Pass Records:-------

Question: Don't you think that people will be reluctant to give this information because of privacy issues and fear that the information would be sold?

Answer: As far as the privacy issue, this is not more information than already exists with your car registration, your driver's license, your social security account, your tax returns; all of which are on a government data base now and are not being sold to private institutions. 

Question: Are you suggesting we set up another governmental department that taxpayers need to support?

Answer: No.  We propose that this system be established in the existing Animal Control/Services Department.  We propose they replace mandatory dog licensing with mandatory pet microchipping and registration, which could be renewed every two or three years.  We seriously believe this department would generate far more revenue than it does currently and the income would easily offset the cost to provide a true service to our animal citizens and their owners.

Question: Will every pet owner be able to afford this?

Answer: Even lower income people get drivers licenses, register their automobiles, vaccinate their children and pay insurance premiums, so it follows reason that some will also microchip and register their pets.  Should law cease requiring licenses and instead make it mandatory to chip and register, the cost of the procedure and registration service would be considerably lower than it is today due to the sheer volume increase.  We can't expect 100% cooperation, but if only 50% of the population abides, we would be better off than we are today.

Question: What do you mean by a National Web Site?

Answer: I mean one that works, one that is quick and easy to use with chip numbers of lost pets listed in numerical order.  No descriptions, no pictures, just chip numbers and a 'R' indicating an undisclosed sum of money will be paid as an reward upon return of the animal.  If you lose your pet, you should be able to call the registration service and have him listed on the site within hours.  If you find a pet, you should be able to go to any pet related business, have him scanned and check the computer to find the number.  Once the pet is reunited with the owner, you find out the amount of the reward.

 Today, by virtue of so many sites trying to provide the service, there may as well be none.   The most difficult part of the new system will be getting the population to know there is one government operated site for lost animals.  It needs to be as well known as the phone number 911 is known.

Question: What would make this site work when so many others have not?

Answer: The site would only show a chip number and an 'R' indicating whether a reward would be paid.  Because of this, crooks would not know if the lost animal were a bird, dog, cat, or horse and they would not know the amount of the reward being offered. Using the chip number instead of pictures and verbal descriptions would guarantee positive identification prior to any information being released.

Let's say I am the pet owner that lost my cat.  I call, or email the chip number to the registration service.  They have the animal's description on the registration, which is verified at the time of my lost report.  I either send a check, or give them my credit card in the amount of the reward I am willing to pay.  Let's assume it is $500.00.  I also agree to pay a certain amount while my animal is listed on the site as lost, let's say $5.00 per month.

Assume you are a clerk in a vet clinic and you scan an unknown animal, you turn around and look on the computer and you see the chip number and 'R'.  (You now become very excited, as you don't know if the reward will be $5.00 or $5,000.00)  You call, or email the registration service describing the animal that matches the information they have on record.  They inform you that the owner will contact you and the unknown amount of reward will be mailed to you by the registration service once the owner releases it.  The registration service would then contact me, the owner, and give me the details of who has my pet.    Everybody wins''

Question: You say there are other positive aspects of this system.  What are they?

Answer:  Yes, there are many.  To name a few:

    The reward incentive will motivate thousands of other people to help you look for your missing pet.  Groomers, pet stores, vet clinics and other animal related businesses would be scanning all unknown animals.  People, instead of ignoring obviously lost or injured animals would pick them up and take them somewhere to be scanned.

    Research centers cannot purchase animals with permanent identification.

    Should a pet meet its demise on our roads, the animal control officer or police officer could scan them and let the owners know.

    Should a pet bite someone, they could instantly find out if rabies shots were current.

    Should abandoned or abused animals be found, the owners could be identified and held accountable.

    Bloodlines could also be tracked on the database if desired.

    Past records could be kept on the database as to the dogs history, i.e. biting, runaways, lost/found, previous fines etc.

Question: OK, what can we do to help get the job done?

Answer: Most things that happen today start from grassroots efforts, so please share this information with your friends.

 Instead of talking about your golf game or your last great meal, talk about the animal victims of Katrina.  Talk about what you would do if we have the big earthquake that is predicted and your home is destroyed.  Talk about someone you know that has been walking the streets putting up posters offering a large reward in hopes of getting her lost cat or dog back.  Read the 'Lost and Found' section of any newspaper and see that 90% of the listings are lost pets.  Check out any veterinarian clinic bulletin board and see dozens of posters, offering thousands of dollars in rewards.  Watch grown people cry for weeks over a lost pet and then think about how that helpless lost pet feels.

 If you find it more comfortable to promote this concept under your own name, take ownership of it.  Use these words, or use your own.  Use my name, or don't, it doesn't matter, just get the message delivered.

If you have any political connections, please, please tell them to take this system to congress and start screaming on behalf of our voiceless companion animals.

Opinions, questions and comments welcomed at