Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion A chocolate lab mix puppy looks through the cage Friday April 18, 2014 at the Kenai Animal Shelter in Kenai, Alaska.

Animals to receive microchips at Kenai animal shelter

Employees at the Kenai Animal Shelter are preparing for a new policy requiring that identifying microchips be implanted in all animals adopted from the shelter.

The microchips are unpowered electronic devices similar in size and shape to a grain of rice. When read with a radio scanner the microchip will return a number between nine and 15 digits, depending on the brand. In a database maintained by the chip’s maker this number will be linked to contact information for the animal’s owner.

“That’s the general practice now with animal shelters — microchipping every animal that leaves their shelter under the adopted status,” said Kenai animal control officer Cora Chambers. “We’re just trying to stay current with some of the shelter standards that seem to be in line with helping pets and owners reunite.”

Shelter staff will perform the microchip insertions using a large-gauge syringe after being trained via online videos and tutorials provided by the chip’s manufacturer. Chambers said that the procedure is similar to the vaccinations that shelter staff currently perform. The shelter already has a set of scanners, which it has been using for several years to identify animals microchipped by local veterinarians and other shelters.

The shelter is currently deciding which company to order microchips from. Chambers said that this decision will depend on the compatibility between the chip and a database program that the shelter is also making a purchase decision for.

“Otherwise you have to enter microchip numbers into two separate databases, and that’s what we’re trying to avoid, just for time and ease of use,” Chambers said.

Brands that the shelter is considering using include Home Again, Avid, Pet Link, and Smart Tag. Chambers estimated that it will take at least three weeks for the microchips to selected and purchased.

For pet adopters, the microchipping policy will entail a $5.10 fee, which Chambers said is the natural cost of the chip, as well as an optional registration fee for the microchipping service’s database. Chambers said that for most services this is a one-time fee between $9 and $25. If the pet owner chooses not to register their contact information to the microchip number, the number will be linked to the Kenai Animal Shelter, which will keep adopters’ contact information in its own database.

Reach Ben Boettger at ben.boettger@peninsulaclarion.com.

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