Saturday. One of my last appointments for the day was a new pup, a six-month-old, dingo-ey dog. She had been rescued from the streets of southwestern Miami (a common place for people to dump their unwanted dogs). After checking her out completely—physical, heartworm, fecal check, shots, I realized I’d forgotten part of my protocol: the microchip check.

I check for microchips on all new pets so I can include the number in their record. With found pets, it’s a mandatory procedure. If I don’t check all pets for microchips how can I recommend them as a means to locating a lost pet? I felt terrible to have skipped such a critical step—especially when I ran the scanner over the pup’s shoulder blades and the reader gave its telltale beep. She had been chipped.

Now we can no longer easily assume this is just any stray dog someone threw out the car door. While that may still be the case, the dog has a record. It should be followed up.

I explained all of this to her new dad. He took the information and suggested that he might not follow up on it. Because I have no legal responsibility to get involved (unless I have reason to believe the pet was stolen), and because I have no ethical obligation to go beyond providing information to her rescuer, I let the happy couple walk out the exam room.

Still, I can’t help wondering, unlikely as it might be, that there’s someone out there who loves her and misses her. True, she had all the typical characteristics of a dumped dog (she had obviously never walked on a leash before, was nervous and head-shy, and came covered with ticks) and her new owner was crazy about her, but who was I to make a snap determination about where she belonged?

As the proud, new father paid his bill, I urged him again to call the microchip company’s 1-800 number. Most dogs with humane society chips are never even registered, I explained. And whoever owned her in the past at least deserves a call to let them know she’s safe. This time he promised me he’d consider it.