By Doug Jimerson

In the classic movie “Lassie Come Home,” a beloved collie dog from rural Yorkshire is sold to a wealthy Duke who takes the dog far away to his estate in Scotland. The Duke’s granddaughter sees that the dog is miserable and frees it from her kennel. Lassie then makes her way across hundreds of miles to get home to the boy she loves. During the long, arduous journey the dog meets a variety of people who have no idea where she belongs and can’t really help her.

Of course, if Lassie had a microchip, the movie would be a lot shorter since her owners would be found immediately (but of course, that doesn’t make a great movie).

Here in the United States, lost or stolen pets continue to be a major problem. According to the American Humane Association, over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen every year. And one in three pets will become lost at some point during their lives. Those are rough odds if you love your pet and want to keep them safe.

Adding a microchip to your furry friend is a simple process where your veterinarian embeds a small chip between your pet’s shoulder blades. This chip contains vital information such as your name, address, and phone number, so if your pet ever strays, you will be quickly reunited.

In fact, the first thing most animal shelters and veterinary clinics do when they process a stray dog or cat is to check if it has a microchip.

The process of injecting a microchip under the skin is no more painful for your pet than a standard vaccine injection. But, if you prefer, you can have a microchip implanted while your animal is under sedation while being spayed or neutered.

Once your pet has a microchip you must remember to register the chip with the pet recovery service associated with the chip. If you don’t register your animal, the chip won’t contain the information necessary to get your pet safely home. And always contact the pet registry if you move or if your phone number changes so they can update your pet’s records.

Microchips generally cost between 25 and 50 dollars but the money is well spent if your pet gets lost or stolen. Collars and tags can fall off or be removed, but a microchip will last your pet’s lifetime.