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August 22, 2014

Microchips help return lost furry friends

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Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Dr. Michael Simpson, a Department of Army Civilian Veterinary medical officer, scans ‘P.J.,’ a military working dog, for a microchip number at the Nellis Veterinary Treatment Facility at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 20. Military working dogs are required to have microchips due to frequent international travel.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — People can be forgetful. They can forget to close the door or shut the gate, and their furry four-legged friend could be gone forever. Pet owners should consider getting their dogs and cats microchipped to avoid any potential stress or anxiety over losing their pet.

Nellis Air Force Base followed suit with other bases in requiring housing residents to microchip their pets.

“It took us quite a while to make [microchipping] mandatory, but we worked with several wing commanders to make it mandatory,” said Dr. Michael Simpson, a Department of Army Civilian Veterinary medical officer.

For military members, there’s a one-time fee of $25 to activate the microchip, whereas companies off base could charge a yearly fee to maintain personal information in their database, said Simpson.

The chips offered at the Nellis Veterinary Treatment Facility have a $1,000 pet insurance policy. In the event a pet disappears and is returned injured, this policy will help cover a vet bill up to $1,000. The microchips used at Nellis VTF are international, which means they are valid if your pet is taken overseas.

“The benefits [of the microchip] outweigh the price,” said Karla Larsen, a veterinary technician at Nellis VTF.

Microchipping is just like a vaccine. The microchip is about as big as a grain of rice and it’s in the end of a needle, which is injected into the animal.

Simpson said an important thing for the clinic is getting the microchip done at the same time your pet receives its first rabies vaccine because it helps in the PCS process. Most countries will require that your pets have at least two rabies vaccines that are associated with the microchip.

“It’s not an active device, meaning that it doesn’t have a battery or anything. It’s just a piece of magnetic material that’s wound up in the chip, so it’s similar to a credit card,” said Simpson. “It has a code in it, which is basically a number. Whenever we scan the chip it picks up the number. The chip doesn’t have any personal information on it and the number is associated with the pet in [a] database.”

According to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, each microchip has a 10-digit code registered to a national database. If the pet is microchipped, the special number is read and phoned in to database operators. A check of the database will reveal information such as name, address and the medical history of the animal.

“The biggest benefit of microchipping your pet is that they can be reunited with their family if they get lost,” Simpson said. “The chip helps aid in identifying your animal companion just in case they end up in a shelter. It’s only after your pet is lost that you wish you would have gotten it done.”

For more information on microchipping, vaccinations, spaying and neutering your pets or other veterinarian services the Nellis VTF provides, contact their office at 702-652-8836. The veterinary clinic is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.




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