Microchip saves Angel's leg

MINDEN -- Two days after Douglas County Animal Shelter officials found an injured pit bull near a retail store on Highway 395, its owner was located on the East Coast.

A microchip implanted in 2-year-old Angel provided staff at Carson Valley Veterinary Hospital with information about her owner, a Carson City-area truck driver.

Even though his Sacramento address was out of date, a family member there contacted the owner of the black and brown dog with a cross-country telephone call.

And just in time.

Angel's left hind leg was going to be amputated. The owner called the hospital and told them to delay the surgery.

Diana Furness, president of the Douglas Animal Welfare Group, which planned to pay for Angel's amputation, said it was like a miracle the owner called Friday at the last minute.

"We were just so pleased," she said. "We had just made the decision to tell the vet to amputate the leg. We were so amazed the microchip system worked."

The owner left Angel with a friend on Jacks Valley Road. Angel and another dog got out. The owner was unaware of the incident until Angel arrived at the hospital and her doctor discovered her chip.

Furness said the chips cost $40 and less, depending on where you take your pet. She said cats also can get the implants.

The chips do not cause animals any more pain than they would experience getting a shot, she said.

Although some clinics may not search for the chip, Furness said they might be more likely to do a scan on a full-breed pet like Angel.

The chip is the size of a grain of rice and readable by a special device, which sends an ID number to the scanner. This number is then used to retrieve information from a national database, which includes a phone number and address for the owner, and veterinary and health information, if given.

According to figures from the English National Dog Warden Association, 51 percent of lost dogs are returned to owners in England, where the chip is more common. In the United States, 14 percent of dogs are returned.

"Dogs can't speak for themselves," Furness said. "I can see someone thinking this is 'Big Brother,' but if the dog can't talk, who's going to talk for it?"

The chip is typically planted in the scruff of an animal's neck. The chip is permanent and unalterable in its glass. Two chips currently are available for pet owners.

"If people would microchip their pets, and keep their addresses and phone numbers updated, the pet will be returned to you if it gets lost," Furness said.


For more information, contact Schering-Plough Animal Health at (800) 252-7894 or Identichip at (800) 926-1313.




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