Clinic gives dogs chance to be found

Posted: Friday, November 11, 2005

Few things are as frightening to a dog owner as loosing their furry friend, but the Kenai Kennel Club is hoping to make it easier to locate a lost pet, should it happen.

The kennel club is hosting a microchipping clinic, open to all dogs, on Saturday at their facility next to the Moose Lodge in the C Plaza on the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai.

“We’re always trying to help educate the public about dogs, because anything to do with dogs is important to the kennel club,” said Leslie Batchelder, vice president of the club.

Part of this public education is informing pet owners about their responsibilities, such as ensuring that all pets have at least one form of identification on them at all times.

“Loosing a dog is heartbreaking and we want to prevent that. Microchipping is a good way to reunite lost dogs with their owners,” Batchelder said.

A microchip — also known as personal identification transponders — is a permanent form of identification that is no bigger than a grain of rice.

A chip is implanted beneath the surface of the skin, between the pet’s shoulder blades, where it remains inactive until it is read with a scanner. The low radio frequency emitted by the scanner provides the microchip with the power necessary to transmit its unique alphanumeric code and identify the animal.

The implant procedure requires no special treatment or anesthetic and can be performed in seconds.

Batchelder knows from firsthand experience just how swiftly a chipped dog can be reuniting with their owner.

“I had a dachshund get away from me. It jumped out of the car at the Anchorage airport in the middle of the night,” she said.

Fortunately for her, the wiener dog was quickly picked up by a passer-by and brought to an animal control shelter.

The next morning shelter staff scanned the animal, retrieved Batch-elder’s contact information via the chip and contacted her with the information that her dog was safe, in their possession and waiting to be brought home.

“Even though I live in Soldotna and the dog was lost in Anchorage, they knew where to find me, thanks to the chip,” she said.

Batchelder’s incident was a success, not just due to the dog being microchipped, but also due to her having registered the pet in the chip’s national database service.

People register by providing their current contact information, as well as alternate contacts — such as relatives or veterinarians — in case they cannot be reached themselves. It’s imperative that owners keep their contact information up to date, otherwise the chips are practically useless.

“We run into that wall all the time,” said Bill Godek, chief animal control officer at the Kenai Animal Shelter.

“Most of the chips we get end up being nontraceable because the owners didn’t register the dog, or didn’t reregister after moving, and if you don’t register, the chips don’t do any good,” he said.

Godek said last year alone, the Kenai shelter received 578 reports of lost and/or found dogs, and most didn’t have any form of identification.

Nationally, 8 million to 10 million dogs and cats enter shelters each year, of which between 600,000 and 750,000 (15 to 30 percent of dogs and 2 to 5 percent of cats) are reclaimed by their owners, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

For those remaining in shelters, 3 million to 5 million will be adopted and 4 million to 5 million will be euthanized.

“It’s too bad, too, because it’s been statistically proven that dogs with identification make it home. Tags are also still the best line of defense, but chips are a great way to identify animals,” he said.

“Also, if they are stolen, chips can prove absolute ownership of a prized pet,” he said.

The Kenai Kennel Club microchip clinic is from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. The cost is $25 per dog. For more information, call 262-6405.

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