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City to get scanner to help reunite lost pets with owners

Micro matters

Posted: Monday, January 09, 2006

 

  Marianne Clark, Animal Control Officer at the Soldotna Animal Shelter, prepares to process a new acquisition to the shelter a tagless stray cat captured within city limits. A new scanner, soon to be donated to the shelter by the Kenai Kennel Club, will allow Clark to scan for microchip identification in cats and dogs. Photo by Joseph Robertia

Marianne Clark, Animal Control Officer at the Soldotna Animal Shelter, prepares to process a new acquisition to the shelter a tagless stray cat captured within city limits. A new scanner, soon to be donated to the shelter by the Kenai Kennel Club, will allow Clark to scan for microchip identification in cats and dogs.

Photo by Joseph Robertia

Pet owners who have lost a dog or cat within the city of Soldotna may soon have increased odds of being reunited with their furry friends.

The Kenai Kennel Club is in the process of selecting a universal scanner that will be donated to the Soldotna Animal Shelter. The scanner is used for detecting under-the-skin identification microchips that may be implanted in pets that end up at the shelter.

“Hopefully, this will help people get dogs back,” said Leslie Batchelder, vice president of the kennel club.

“We try to donate to anything that will help pets. We all love dogs, and if it helps dogs, we support it,” Batchelder said. Money used for the purchase was generated from fees collected from the club’s obedience, agility and other dog-training classes.

Batchelder knows how valuable a microchip can be when it comes to finding a lost pet. Her pet dachshund got away one evening when it jumped out of the truck while Batchelder was picking up family at the airport in Anchorage.

The dog wasn’t wearing tags because Batchelder said she fears her dog may catch on something and choke. Fortunately, the dog was picked up by a passer-by and brought to an animal control shelter. The next morning shelter staff scanned the animal, retrieved Batchelder’s contact information via the chip and contacted her with the dog’s whereabouts.

“The chip helped me get my dog back,” she said.

However, Batchelder was quick to point out that the chip alone doesn’t reunite lost pets and owners. Implanted animals must be registered by calling into the national database maintained by the microchip manufacturer to provide them with emergency contact information. Without this information, the implanted chip is of little use.

Like tags, it’s imperative that owners keep their contact information up to date. Every time they move they should call the database to inform them of new address and contact information.

“Keeping up with current contact information is a big part of the chip program,” said Marianne Clark, animal control officer at the Soldotna Animal Shelter.

She said in her experience, pet owners are not as vigilant at doing this as they should be. So while the Soldotna shelter accepts the scanner from the the kennel club as one more way to help find the owners of lost pets, Clark said she believes there still is no replacement for tags.

Clark’s supervisor, Soldotna City Manager Tom Boedeker, stated that while the city gladly accepts the donation, shelter staff will reserve the right to decide which animals are scanned and when.

“Accepting the scanner is not a commitment to scan every dog and cat that comes in. Some animals we’re not going to scan due to safety concerns for both the shelter staff and the animals,” he said.

Boedeker also cited the shelter’s limited staffing as another factor that could affect the frequency animals are scanned for chips. Clark is typically the only employee at the shelter and the logistics of responding to calls throughout city limits, combined with her duties of caring for and cleaning up after her charges, keeps her busy, he said.



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