Spring has sprung. The weather is finally warm and sunny, and everyone wants to spend more time in the great outdoors.

Maybe your kids or grandkids are running in and out the door, you are working in the yard opening and closing the back gate, and then – in a split second – it happens. Suddenly you notice that your dog is not in the house or yard. Your beloved four-legged family member, - let’s call him “Frosty”- is missing, and you are at a loss as to where to find him.

There are two ways this hypothetical story can go. The first one does not have a happy ending for Frosty’s family. As the young pup makes his break from the yard, he sprints off excitedly. He chases a squirrel and tries to keep up with a bunny. He notices a couple of dogs behind the fence of a house blocks from his home and exchanges sniffs with them through the chain links.

Footloose and running free

He runs here and there letting his nose lead him from one glorious sniff to another. Time means nothing, but eventually Frosty gets tired and thirsty and lies down in the grass of a yard far from his own. A nice lady sees him and tries to approach him, but he darts off again.

She calls the Animal Control Officer who takes down the caller’s information and locates the wayward pup. He gets Frosty into his vehicle and drives him to the local animal shelter.

Now don’t be fretting about this part of the story. Going to the shelter is a good thing for a lost animal. Upon intake at most shelters across the country, staff will scan the dog or cat for a microchip that will help track down the owners. The animal is also checked for identification tags or tattoos that might be helpful.

Then, they will be given food, water, shelter from the elements, and lots of love and care. For three days, the animal at our local shelter is in a special area of the building. Then, after the 72-hour waiting period, they become a part of the shelter’s adoption program and go through more medical checks, spaying or neutering, vaccinations, and microchipping.

Now back to the hypothetical Frosty and the hypothetical situation he encountered. During the check-in process, shelter staff found that Frosty was, indeed, wearing a collar, but it had no tags or identifying information on it. He had no tattoo IDs or a microchip. And since Frosty did not speak “human”, it was a dead end as far as getting him back home.

His family did not contact the shelter regarding their missing dog nor did they stop by to see if he had been brought in. So Frosty’s new life away from his family was about to begin. After a week or two, he met a wonderful man looking for a good companion, and the rest is history. But Frosty never saw his first home again.

Happily ever after…

The second hypothetical ending of the story is much shorter and to the point. Yes, Frosty was running and sniffing and darting here and there. The Animal Control Officer picked him up and took him to the shelter.

Upon intake, he was scanned for a microchip. BINGO! He had one. Shelter staff contacted the national registry with his number, and his family was notified that he was safe at the shelter and waiting to be picked up. It was a win-win for everyone involved…especially Frosty!

According to Home Again, a microchip manufacturer, 90 percent of lost pets without ID do not make it home. It is a heartbreaking problem with such a simple solution.

All animals that are adopted from the Beatrice Animal Shelter are microchipped. The procedure is simple and similar to administering an injection. The chip, which is about the size of a grain of rice, is implanted under the loose skin between the animal’s shoulder blades. The process only takes a few seconds, and no anesthetic is required.

Microchipping is considered the preferred method of identifying pets for several reasons. According to Home Again, it is the only form of pet ID that is permanent with a unique number that cannot be altered or removed.

Collar tags are good, but they can become worn and impossible to read or may slip off. Pet tattoos can blur over time or be altered. And collars with contact information printed on them can be removed or come off.

If you are interested in getting your cat or dog microchipped, you can do so at the Beatrice Animal Shelter. Trained personnel can administer the chip and get your information entered into the national registry. The pet owner is responsible for notifying the registry if contact information changes. The cost for microchipping is 25 dollars per animal.

Give your pet the gift of a return ticket home. Schedule a microchip appointment soon and make your version of the story complete with a “happily ever after” ending.

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