Microchipping dogs is a fairly new scientific development that allows you to keep track of your dog if it gets lost or stolen. Microchips have saved many lost dogs from being put down.
How Does Microchipping Dogs Work?
The microchip is not a tracking device that can pick up the chipped dog's whereabouts. It is not a doggy GPS system. It is simply a record of the dog's important details that is kept on the dog, under its skin. It is read using a special scanner. Most vets and animal shelters have these devices nowadays. The microchip is injected under the skin by your vet, between the dog's shoulder blades. When the scanner is applied it shows all the dog's vital details, such as the name and address of the owner and the dog's registration number.
Why Microchip Your Dog?
Dog theft is a very real risk, especially for Jack Russell owners - JRTs are popular dogs and they are worth a fair amount of money. Because they are hunters they are also well-suited for illegal dog fights. Having your dog microchipped means that if it is stolen and resold you have some chance of getting it back.
Having your dog microchipped also means that if your dog runs away, you have a good chance someone will take it to a shelter where they will scan it and get in touch with you. Many lost JRTs end up at Jack Russell rescue centers and shelters despite having perfectly good, loving homes waiting for them - but there is no way to bring pet and owner back together. If your dog is chipped and it ends up at a vet clinic or shelter, there's a good chance you'll see it again.
This is something Jack Russell owners should be very aware of, as Jack Russells are well-known for escaping through tiny gaps, digging under fences or bolting out open doors.
Note: You should triple check when you have your dog microchipped that the phone number they record is the right one. Recently I read about a woman who's dog was put down at a pound, despite being microchipped, because the phone number recorded on the chip was wrong. So make sure all the details are absolutely correct.
An Alternative to Microchipping Dogs - Tattooing
The other permanent ID method for your dog is a tattoo. This is usually done on the dog's ear or inside the thigh. The thigh is better because a dog thief won't think twice about removing an ear if necessary. The tattoo may be a unique registration number or some of your own personal details. In the United States some owners use the Social Security number for the tattoo.
What To Do If Your Dog Is Lost
If your dog is missing, take action immediately. The quicker you act, the better your chances of seeing your dog again. Contact your local vets, animal shelters, dog rescue centers and police department. Let them know if your dog is tattooed or microchipped and give a complete description. Try to find an up-to-date photo of your dog and print out some posters, the bigger the better and in colour if possible. Ask friends to post them up - the more distance you cover the better your chances. A lost dog can stray a long way from home. If your dog has a favorite place nearby, such as a dog-walking park, that could be a good place to start the search. Search places your dog is familiar with.
Take out ads in newspapers letting people know about your lost dogs. You can offer a reward, but be careful - there are snakes out there who scam people who place lost pet ads. Don't ever send someone money until you've actually seen your dog.
Microchipping dogs is the most modern and effective means of reuniting a lost dog with its owner. Regardless of whether your dog is microchipped or tattooed, it should wear a collar with an ID tag that includes your name and phone number and the dog's registration information.