Even though they may act as our second shadows, ’tis a fact that dogs go missing all the time. And you don’t have to have a “runner,” either.
Dogs can be startled by noises (fireworks, thunder, construction, etc.) and flee in a panic, or catch the scent of a squirrel or rabbit and lunge when you least expect it, causing the leash to fly out of your hand. Delivery people or contractors might accidentally let a pup out. Then there are broken screens, open windows, and doors left ajar. And don’t forget about weak areas in outdoor fencing, or even dogs who like to scale, jump over, or dig under them.
There are also those times when a dog has an underground fence system but 1) isn’t yet well trained, 2) doesn’t have his or her special collar on, or 3) ignores the buzz in favor of the greener grass on the other side.
A pooch with unexpected freedom may be delighted or disoriented, and can wander farther than what’s familiar. Calling, whistling, and luring with irresistible treats are great first responses, as is enlisting local Good Samaritans in neighboring areas. (Twin Cities folks, check out our lost-dog resources, too.) But if these actions fail to produce your lost pup? Hopefully they are wearing a collar with ID tags, but by all means please say you’ve taken extra precautions and had him or her microchipped. Yes? Paw bump. No? Read on.
Designed with lifelong functionality, a microchip is a safe, reliable, and permanent identification system. A tiny, scannable insert is placed under the skin between a dog’s (or cat’s) shoulders. Embedded with a unique ID code, the chip emits a low radio frequency that can be read with a microchip scanner. The person who scans the pet can then use the information that is transmitted to contact the owner and take steps to reunite the duo.
The microchip can be implanted — a quick and generally painless process — during a routine vet visit or a spay/neuter procedure. However, this is step one. The process is only effective if the next step is taken: registration with the chip manufacturer’s national database. This service really isn’t optional. Most vets and shelters will check a found dog for a microchip, but if the owner’s contact information is unavailable or out-of-date, the chip is essentially useless.
- If you haven’t already, get your pet chipped ASAP! All vets offer this service in conjunction with nearly any appointment or as a stand-alone visit. Other options include The Animal Humane Society’s monthly low-cost clinics as well as pet-related organizations that team with veterinarians to provide microchipping at special events throughout the year. Contact your local rescue/shelter or check our events page often.
- Register your microchip immediately! Well-known companies with national networks include AKC Reunite, Home Again, Microchip Registration Center, or Pet Link.
- For an additional layer of protection, get your pup licensed. Seriously, it’s like Uber for your dog. (Minneapolis and St. Paul folks can even buy pet licenses right on our site.)
- If your dog becomes lost, contact the company your chip is registered with and make sure your info is up to date. Then create flyers and alert the neighbors. Share your dog’s description and location last seen with your local police department, nearby shelters (follow up daily), and furbulous volunteer-run groups like Lost Dogs MN and The Retrievers.