Steamboat Springs Pets will be labeled for life after visiting Steamboat's second pet microchipping clinic, hosted by Safeway on Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. Owners can technologically advance their pets at the clinic for $30 and walk away with the satisfaction of knowing that their pet can easily be identified in case it ever gets lost or stolen.
With the swipe of a scanner, animal lovers in the Yampa Valley will be able to find their lost pets quicker if the animal is equipped with a microchip that tells animal controllers and veterinarians the animal's address and phone number. Microchipping gives pets permanent identification and uses technology to aid in the retrieval of a beloved pet.
"When a dog receives a microchip it is the only dog in the world that has that identification number," said John Rule, a veterinarian at Mt. Werner Veterinary Hospital.
Rule and Mike Gotchey, a veterinarian at Steamboat Veterinary Hospital, will be on hand at Safeway on Saturday to microchip animals by injecting the small device under their skin. Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and they are placed under the pet's skin in the shoulder area similar to a vaccination.
"It's definitely effective because we can automatically find out who the owner is and how to contact them," said Lisa Lesyshen, a staff assistant at the Steamboat Springs animal shelter.
The microchip is in essence a voice for the animals to communicate their identity. When a stray animal is found, the Steamboat Springs animal shelter examines the animal with a hand-held scanner that reads the animal's specific identification number. The microchip number is registered in a national database, which contains the owner's contact information that can be retrieved through a 24-hour telephone hotline.
Lesyshen recommends that owners get their pets microchipped this weekend because collars with identification tags easily come off. Without identification it's difficult to return lost animals to their proper home and investigate stray animals, Rule and Lesyshen agreed.
"People want to make sure that their animal will be able to be identified if it gets lost or stolen," Rule said.
About 15 percent of the animals that come into the shelter have been microchipped, Lesyshen said. The more animals in the area that receive the chips, the less worrying owners will have to go through if their pet ever becomes lost or stolen. The microchips also reduce controversy over the ownership of a stolen dog because the microchip identification lasts the animal's life, Rule said. Records show that more than 2,500 successful recoveries have been made nationally since the inception of microchipping.