While most pet owners will hopefully never have to worry about a missing pet, the reality is that many pets go astray every year in Ottawa. Even the pet you least expect to wander may suddenly disappear. We know of a small toy poodle who ran away one Canada Day after being scared by loud fireworks, although he was eventually reunited with his family six weeks later. Another dog wandered away from its home into the surrounding woods for the first time at 12 years of age, eventually turning up at a neighbour’s house three days later.  As for cats, they natural roamers and, even though they have an instinctive way of finding their way back home, they may be chased or scared away from their area.

Identification in any form is essential to help reunite lost pets with their owners. Tags on collars remain the first and most visible method to provide a contact number or name, but unfortunately, once the collar has come off, only the pet can tell you where she came from and most can’t talk! And cats are notorious for losing collars.

Microchips, with rare exceptions, work throughout the life of the pet, do not fade with time, and do not fall off. Since the introduction of microchip technology for pet identification, many pets that would have been lost forever have been reunited quickly and efficiently with their owners.

The microchip is the size of a grain of rice, and is inserted over the shoulders of the puppy at any age by a needle that is only slightly larger than that used for vaccines. To read the microchip, a scanner is waved over the dog and the number encoded on that particular chip is displayed on the scanner’s screen. Each chip is registered to an owner, so once the microchip number is found, all we need to do call up the database to find the owner. The databases are maintained 24/7 and, thanks to standardization, microchips placed in Ontario can be read by scanners in any other part of Canada or the United States.

We highly recommend a microchip for every dog and household cat, even those whose risk of wandering seems low. You never know when your pet may stray.