Obsession: Dexter, Roxy and Microchips

Settling in nicely.

World, meet Dexter.

Dexter is a stray dog who came into my life recently.  My hubby and I had had a dog, a lovely yellow lab called Avery, and she died of cancer four years ago.  We’d been talking about bringing another dog into our family, but the time hadn’t seemed right.

And then three weeks ago, a stray dog appeared in the yard of a dog-owning neighbor.  The stray was handed over to the joint care of me and my hubby, and another neighbor who had recently lost her own dog.

He had no tags on his collar, and no microchip, so we launched a massive campaign to find his family.  We posted with the city animal services and the Humane Society; we made him a trending topic on Twitter.  We put up ads on Craigslist and Kijiji, and posted on Facebook.  We blogged about him. We made posters and distributed them around the city with the help of friends and family; we toured him through all the local vets, pet shops and groomers.  And nothing.  No one knew the little guy, and we had no idea where he had come from, or where he belonged.

After a week of searching, we had a tag made with the name Dexter and our phone number on it, and he moved in with us.  We’re thrilled to have him living with us, and he seems to be enjoying it. He’s a good dog, and someone had clearly cared for him: he’d been neutered and he was healthy and groomed.  But someone, somewhere, has lost a beloved family pet.

If he had had a microchip, he could have found his way back to his family.

Happy and safe.

I told Mandy this story, and she told me the story of her cat, Roxy.

Roxy, too, was a lost animal, and Roxy, too, was chip-less. Mandy rescued Roxy from the streets when she was a kitten – she was sick and injured, and likely wouldn’t have survived if Mandy hadn’t taken her in.

We’re glad that these particular lost animals landed with people who could look after them, but as any shelter will tell you, that doesn’t always happen.

I know that Knitty readers are animal lovers. The help you’ve offered in the course of the search for Dexter’s family is proof of that. And I know that many Knitty readers have pets of their own.

The lesson in this is that if you have pets, please have them chipped.  A tiny little microchip is injected under the skin of the animal, usually around the shoulder or neck area.  The microchip has an ID number which is registered in a master database, along with information about the animal and its people – a description of the animal, and contact information for the animal’s owner and vet.  A vet can do this, or any animal shelter or rescue organization.  A scanning device can find the chip and instantly access the information about the animal – and any vet will scan a lost animal, free of charge, to see if it has been registered.

It’s quick, inexpensive, and utterly painless for the animal.  And it means that your lost pet can find its way home to you.

Needless to say, we’re having Dexter chipped.

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18 thoughts on “Obsession: Dexter, Roxy and Microchips

  1. Terrie

    Dexter is adorable!! I’m so glad you were able to take him in and make him a member of your family 🙂 It’s so sad to hear about missing pets, so thank you for reminding everyone to microchip their pets. Both of my cats have chips 🙂

  2. Lauren

    Also, if your pet is chipped, please ask your vet to check the chip when you go for your next routine checkup. Microchips can occasionally migrate or be damaged and may need to be replaced. Make sure your chip is still in working order once a year.

  3. Ana

    Glad to hear Dexter now has a home and an appointment with the vet for chipping, but it is not entirely painless. The needle is pretty thick and I can still picture my cat’s scream of pain when we had her chipped 10 years ago. But there is no denying, all pets should be chipped.

  4. Ana

    ps. Chipping is international – or at least European. When we moved from the UK to Ireland, all we had to do was tell the chip people our new address and everything was sorted.

  5. Tiny Tyrant

    Welcome Dexter! And chipping is important.

    And Dexter’s story is much like my Scrat’s story, except Scrat hadn’t been well taken care of before we got him.

    These animals come into our lives for a reason. Enjoy him.

  6. Retha

    We have a similar dilemma currently in that a black stray cat wandered up to me one day last week, so thin and eyes kind of glazed over. I told my husband and after seeing how very friendly he is, he agreed to feed him and discovered he has been declawed and neutered. Poor thing cannot catch food and is starving to death. We have 2 cats already who don’t like each other and throwing one more in the mix wouldn’t sit well. We’re taking him in to see if he’s chipped and get him vaccinated/looked over and hopefully we can get him back to his family. My worry is he was dumped and then what will we do? My heart goes out to strays….I’d take them all in if I could!

  7. Erin

    I’m so glad to see you post this. Chipping is so important! My mom found a stray dog the other day that she couldn’t keep. She took her to the vet, and no chip. She was destined for the animal shelter, but luckily was claimed by her owner at the vet. Had she been chipped, her hours of searching for her beloved dog would have been only a few minutes.

  8. Cherie

    Every pet should also have a tag with their name and a phone number!! This is the #1 way that lost pets are reunited with their families. Having said that, I realize that pets lose their collars or tags all the time.

    I’m a Veterinary Tech and also agree that microchipping is important. However, most people don’t realize that microchips are not universal. There are multiple companies that offer microchips and each brand requires it’s own “scanner” to read the chip. I mention this because you should make sure that your veterinarian offers a brand of microchip that is prevalent in your area. It’s no help if your pet has a chip that no one has a scanner to read.

  9. Megan

    I met Dexter at Lettuce Knit on Stitch n Pitch day. He was a real charmer! Adorable. I’m glad he’s found a new home.

  10. BunnyQueen

    @Cherie – They are now making some universal chip readers as the industry apparently realized exactly what you said – chips aren’t useful if they can’t be read.

    We have all our animals, even the rabbits, chipped. My wife worked with Petfinder for a while after Hurricane Katrina and it was so sad to hear from people looking for their “brown dog” who had no chip and probably lost their collar. Even if you think your animal will never go outside, please get them chipped. Natural disasters, fires, or break-ins are all out of your control and could result in your critter being outside unexpectedly. I also recommend taking several pictures of your animal from different angles and close ups of any relatively unique marks. You may think you can tell your calico from others, but it is amazing how similar the animals can begin to look when you have a dozen or more in front of you. Again, lesson learned courtesy of Hurricane Katrina. 🙁 A lot of those animal’s pictures were clearly taken at the last minute and only showed the animal through the carrier/crate door.

    If you are concerned about pain, you can ask your vet to apply a topical anesthetic (ours uses Lidocaine I believe) before the chip injection or if you have an upcoming appointment for the pet to have their teeth cleaned or to be sterilized, ask for them to be chipped while under anesthesia.

  11. Terry

    I agree with the poster who said have the chips checked yearly. We recently lost our basset hound and were frantic. Our one hope was that he had a chip. He eventually was turned into animal control but they could not find/read the chip. It had disappeared beneath all that droopyness. So we have them double checked every 6 months now.

  12. Nat

    And PLEASE remember to update your address! Chips are only as good as their contact info!

    Also, get your vet to check that it is still scannable every few years – just takes a quick swipe with the scanner to be sure!

  13. Debbie

    Dexter’s really a cutie!

    I agree with Nat about updating your address. My most recently adopted cat had a chip when I found him, but it was registered to the shelter he came from as a kitten. The people who adopted him never registered him in their name, and after 9 years the phone number the shelter had was no longer in service. I tried unsuccessfully to find his owners, thinking they must really miss him because he’s a GREAT cat.

  14. TracyKM

    Another great option (although not permanent), is a personalized collar. Our first one lasted 10 years, and was only needed once–the people who found our dog actually came to our door to use our phone to phone the number on the collar, LOL. We got them from http://www.k9collars.com (Canadian! But there are probably lots more makers out there).

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