Saturday, July 13, 2002

Microchips gain as pet's ID card

Kenton Co. shelter offers injection for residents' dogs through this month

By Gina Holt
Enquirer contributor

        FORT WRIGHT — It can be traumatic for the whole family when Fluffy or Spike is missing, but “microchipping” the family pet might make finding it a little easier.

        Animals lose their tags and collars climbing under fences or getting it caught on something, but they can't ever lose a microchip that's injected beneath their skin, said Aline Summe, director of the Kenton County Animal Shelter.

        “It's a little chip about the size of a grain of rice,” said Ms. Summe. “We inject it in the loose skin in the shoulder area. It has a coating on it so it stays in that area.

        “It's picked up with a scanner. It's used for identification purposes. We've been microchipping here since 1993.”

        Dr. Emily Dudley, with Grady Veterinarian Hospital in Finneytown, said it's a harmless procedure that can save an animal's life.

        “It takes about two seconds to do,” she said. “It's done in a normal office visit.

        “I don't think it's dangerous. It's a larger needle than we usually use so there could be bleeding at the site. It could become infected, I guess, but I've never seen that happen. Generally it's a very harmless procedure.”

        Once the animal is chipped, the owner registers it so that when scanned, the chip will give the owner's information.

        When a stray animal is brought to the animal shelter or a vet, it will be scanned for a chip with a handheld scanner similar to what is used in some stores.

        “It will pick up the microchip, if there is one,” said Dr. Dudley. “We'll call the 1-800 number and they'll give us the emergency information — the owner's phone number and address.

        “It's really sad to see animals come in here who obviously have a home but we have no way of finding it because they've lost their collar.”

        Ms. Summe said “We've been able to unite animals with their families. We know it works.”

        However, Stewart Smith, owner of Beechmont Pet Hospital, Mount Washington, and president of the Clermont County Humane Society, said it isn't that effective.

        “Theoretically it's a very good idea,” Mr. Smith said. “There are some practical limitations though.”

        Owners move and don't update the system or they are trying to get rid of the animal. There are several companies that make the chips and scanners. He said if a dog comes in with a different company's chip, his scanner may not detect it or may only tell him that the animal has a chip but won't give the information.

        He said the Clermont County Humane Society hasn't had much luck with the system.

        “They couldn't think of any animal that's been placed with their owner as a result of this,” said Mr. Smith.

        In some counties, animals' tag licenses have to be renewed every year for a fee. But in Kenton County, the microchip takes care of that.

        “It replaces our tag license,” said Ms. Summe. “If you buy a tag license, you have to renew it every year. Once you have the dog microchipped and registered in Kenton County, that's good for a lifetime.”

        It costs around $85 to microchip and register a dog at a veterinarian's office.

        “It's automatically part of our adoption fee,” Ms. Summe said, adding that the cost for a dog is $70, which also includes spaying or neutering.

        The Kenton County Animal Shelter is offering its first off-site microchip clinic this month to Kenton County residents only. It is for dogs only and costs $35. Proof of current rabies vaccine is required.

        The clinic will be offered from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today at the Fort Wright City Building; July 20 at the Covington Fire House and July 27 at Freedom Park in Edgewood.

        It will be offered July 24 at the Railroad Depot Park in Erlanger and on July 31 at the Independence Senior Center.

        “We're hoping to encourage microchipping,” Ms. Summe said. “It's to deter the stay of animals in the shelter due to the lack of identification.”

        Call (859) 356-7400 for more information about the clinics.


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- Microchips gain as pet's ID card