A high-tech device helps pet owners find lost animals, saving them from shelters.
In recent years, microchip technology has made its way into dogs, cats and other pets as a permanent identifier.
Tags and collars can slip off and be lost, but microchips are embedded under the skin of an animal.
"It's just a faster and easier way to find an animal and prove ownership," said Stacy Hoobler, Lawrence Humane Society office manager.
Nationwide, more than a half-million pets have been fitted with microchips, giving owners peace of mind and helping ensure speedy returns of lost animals.
At the local humane society, a microchip is included in the $25 adoption fee. For $20 to $50, pet owners can pay a veterinarian to implant a microchip in their pet. Veterinarian Christy Jarrett said the chips are useful even though she only does about one a month at her Lawrence office.
"Shelters here and nationwide scan pets right when they walk in the door. " There is a national registry, so if your cat crawls into a car to Michigan, they can still find you," Jarrett said.
Lawrence city commissioners are considering an ordinance that would require certain breeds of dogs, including pit bulls, to have the microchips.
The microchip is the size of a grain of rice and carries a unique identifying number. The device is completely inert and does not carry a power supply.
The only time the microchip is active is when a scanner, which sends an FM signal, is held over a pet.
Although there are three different types of microchips commonly in use, most scanners will read them all in microseconds. Information about the person who registered the microchip and the pet is then only a phone call to the chip company away.
One of the few other permanent identifiers for dogs is tattooing, but complications make this less than ideal.
Dogs are usually tattooed in the groin area, so at a shelter it may be difficult to check a skittish dog. And tattoos fade over time.
No matter the form, Jarrett urged all pet owners to give their pets identification.
"I see animals all the time that somebody found, and they were obviously owned before," she said, "but we never find the owners."
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