The other day, I was chatting with one of my clients who is involved with the Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Royal Palm Beach, Florida. She recounted an amazing story of Black Jack, a German Shepherd Dog who was stolen from his owner, used as bait for a fighting dog ring and then miraculously found by a person in a residential area.

The story itself is amazing in that Black Jack had the will and strength to survive such emotional and physical trauma and abuse and could learn to trust the stranger who finally got him to the Big Dog Ranch. However, the most amazing part to me was that this dog had a microchip and that the microchip registration was current and up to date. He was returned to his rightful owner almost a year after he had been stolen because of that little computer chip implanted under his skin. You can find out more about this story here.

As it would happen, today I received an email from a friend listing a lost dog. The last line of the description stated, "no microchip or tattoos." My heart sunk. Even if this little dog is found, how will he find his owners? If he is found by someone who doesn’t live in his neighborhood, he will immediately be transported, most likely to the rescuer’s house, outside of an area where he will be recognized.

There, presumptions will be made about the dog. Maybe they will assume that the dog doesn’t belong to anyone or was abandoned. If he was running loose without food and fresh water for a couple of days, he will look a little orphaned. Maybe the rescuer will bring the dog to her veterinarian, who will scan it for a microchip. When it is found that the dog doesn’t have a microchip, the dog will stay with the new rescuer as her own dog or he will be moved into the rescue/shelter system. The rescue or shelter will again scan the dog for a chip, but with nothing there, the dog will be rehomed, or worse, deemed unable to be rehomed, which leaves him with little options.

Why is it that people don’t microchip their pups? Some are afraid of the size of the needle. Well, truth be told, the needle is mighty big, but it is a pinch and it is over. Seems like a drop in the ocean compared to all of the other procedures, surgeries, dentals, poking, and prodding that we veterinarians do to dogs. It could bring your dog back to you just as it reunited Black Jack with his owner. It seems worth it to me.

Some believe that their dog will never get out of their house or yard so they think that their risk is low. In my experience talking to my clients, rescuing dogs for many years, and just driving around in my neighborhood, dogs get loose commonly, not uncommonly. I picked up two Cocker Spaniels on my way to work today and returned them to their owners’ home. Thank goodness they had collars with tags and were friendly enough for me to pick up. The bottom line is that microchipping is a relatively cheap insurance policy that gets your dog home to you safely in case he gets lost. Well worth it.

Some people think that their dog’s collar is enough. I don’t think so. The fact is that we have a rule that Maverick only goes out into the yard or out of the house with his collar on, but sometimes we forget. If that is the one time that the gate is left open, he could easily get out. Even if your dog does have a collar on with tags on it, does your dog have the type of personality that would allow someone to get close enough to read the tags? Some dogs just won’t allow someone that close. If the dog is caught, they may not be willing to put their hands under the dog’s neck to read those tags, but they can scan the dog for a microchip without too much risk of being bitten. Again, seems worth it to me.

Microchipping is a relatively inexpensive procedure with an extremely low risk of any negative effects and it could save your pet’s life and bring him home to you. Go now and get your dog or cat or horse microchipped. Just do it.

Lisa Radosta

Image: Fer Gregory / via Shutterstock