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2009-05-06 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

May 30th "Parallel" Pet Event: -Microchip Clinic at the Last Hope Dog Walk One third of all pets will go missing in their lifetimes. A lost pet cannot recite his address or phone number. However, a microchip can do this for him. On May 30th for only $25 each, you can microchip and register all your dogs and cats with Bayer resQ™ chips. Save the date. This small investment of time and money may one day save your pet. As community outreach Last Hope Animal Rescue will be hosting a low cost Microchip

Clinic again during our annual Dog Walk at Wantagh Park. On Sat. May 30th (rain date June 6th) from 1 pm to 5 pm we will be working together with the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter to bring this money saving pet protection opportunity to the public.

No appointment is necessary, and pets are welcome at the microchip clinic even if they are not staying for the Dog Walk. Chip and go! We will be set up north of the marina, by the dog runs. The dogs will be implanted under the shelter tent, and as an extra precaution, cats will be brought inside the shelter van. All pets are scanned first to make sure they don't already have a chip. You'd be surprised how many owners don't even know. (Hempstead Shelter is quite familiar with the benefits of Bayer technology because every dog and cat adopted from their shelter now leaves with a free resQ™ chip.)

Microchips, when registered properly, are a microscopic marvel. A transponder the size of a grain of rice can be a pet's ticket back home. Thechip is not a GPS, but does have a unique serial number that can be read using a radio frequency scanner. A phone call to the toll free 24/7 registry gives all info needed to reunite the pet with his owner.

Locally we've had some amazing microchip recoveries. Last June a Jack Russell appeared in N. Amityville. Babylon Shelter found a chip that traced him to Atlanta 930 miles away. The feisty pup had vanished from a pet sitter 6 months before. We flew him home. AirTran picked up the tab. A Westie at Babylon Shelter went back to an original owner who had lost him 2 years before, while Team Vivi found "Bugsy" a missing NYC dog a year later in a Rhode Island shelter. Further away a British SPCA rescued an injured cat last month with a microchip that IDed him as Kofi, who had gone missing in 2005. The fugitive feline is home sweet home after 3 ½ years.

Only shelters and veterinarians have scanners. Municipal shelters are supposed to scan all dogs and cats, yes, cats too, on intake. (I can't stress the following enough- all LI found dogs belong in the town shelter, at least temporarily, to give owners the best chance of getting their dogs back. Misguided zealots are telling folks that a post on Craig's List is sufficient; wait a few days and then either keep the dog or give him away. Nothing could be further from the truth. Use this as your ethics barometer: What if the lost dog were your dog?) We are working on getting all the LI shelters to scan DOA animals also to give distraught owners closure.

Chips come in a single-use syringe, slightly larger than a vaccine needle. At the Last Hope clinic veterinary personnel insert the chips between the shoulder blades. It's over in a jiffy. We start the lifetime registration process and then give you the paperwork to fine tune your information from home. Bayer provides a light blue collar tag that pets wear to note they are chipped. Even if the collar comes off, the implanted chip lasts about 25 years, sadly longer than any of our beloved pets.

Previously HomeAgain and AVID dominated the US microchip market. Bayer Animal Health Care, also the maker of Advantage® and Advantix®, debuted their resQ™ tracking system in 2007, claiming 3 advancements over their competitors: a scanner that reads all brands of microchips tested; ISO compliant microchips for pets (International Organization for Standardization- agreed upon by 140+ countries including the US but in typical American fashion we do not always use what we agree upon which reminds me of the many 3rd grade classes I brow beat with metric conversions for a measurement change that never materialized); plus registration and access to a database at no cost. Bayer's registration and updates (www.petlink.net) are always free; the other 2 companies charge a fee at times absorbed by a low cost clinic.

Bayer seems to have the most sensitive scanner. I spoke to Dr. Silene Young, Bayer's product manager, who explained the 3 types of scanners. Frequency specific scanners (125kHz) may only pick up their own brand; a universal scanner is a misnomer because it only reads US chips, it may not read a number, but merely detects the presence of a chip; while an ISO compliant scanner like the resQ™ device reads all chips including 134.2kHz used by Europe, Japan, and Bayer. A third party test confirmed that the resQ™ reader read 200 out 200 encrypted AVIDs, 50 out of 50 unencrypted AVIDs and 100 out of 100 Home Agains.

Most shelters have a collection of scanners. I did an experiment. My dogs have Home Agains. I borrowed Babylon Shelter's resQ™ reader and tested it on my 3 pups and a Last Hope Dachshund. All the chips came up. I was impressed, and if nothing else, learned to use all the scanners at the shelter several times before determining a stray does not have a chip.

Enough techno talk. Unlike your kids, pets can't negotiate a cell phone or a beeper, but they can sport a microchip for an extra level of ID protection and definitive proof of ownership. Got chips? If the answer is no, come to the Last Hope Clinic on May 30th. Call 631-661-614 for more details. Those pups and people wanting to stay for the party, visit www.lasthopehopeanimalrescue.org to learn more about the Dog Walk fun and frolic. Sorry, kitties, you must chip and go!

Our poster pets at Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon were guests at the Town Hall "Earth Day" last Sat. but rainy weather kept the crowds ( and possible homes) away. "Amelia" the happy Pit mix in Cage 27 looked smashing in her ADOPT ME vest while "Phantom" the friendly tuxedo (lobby cage) was a perfect gentleman. "Harvey" the red Shepherd in Cage 15 was also a great ambassador for the shelter's dogs. Other Fabulous Felines: "Katie"-lobby calico; sedate "Smudge" C-3; paintbrush marked "Shirley" C-9"; "Pudge"- tortie declaw C-3. Dandy Dogs: blonde Chow Cage 16; "Tyra"-Rottie mix Cage 42.

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