Lost, Microchipped Pets – Emphasis on LOST

In theory, microchipping your pet is an excellent way to help get him back home should he ever get lost.  In reality, microchips are useless if the organization taking in lost pets doesn’t scan for them or contact the registered owner (and the alternate contacts, if necessary).  There have been a spate of stories recently involving microchipped lost pets being found and the owner not being contacted.

A Pennsylvania family who left their microchipped German shepherd Sophie with a relative while they went on vacation this month only found out she had gotten lost on July 4th after they returned home on the 13th.  They immediately called the HS of Westmoreland Co and learned their pet had been impounded on July 6 and adopted to a new owner six days later.  The HS says it tried to reach the registered owner (whom the family obtained the dog from) listed on Sophie’s microchip but the voicemail at that number was not set up.  After the 48 hour holding period elapsed, they offered the dog for adoption.  The original owner disputes the shelter’s claim about her voicemail.

Either way, if a chip’s first phone number doesn’t yield results, there are always the alternate contacts as well as registered mail and good old knocking on door.  But I guess that sounds like work.  The HS claims the adoption is legal and that the family never legally owned Sophie anyway because they hadn’t licensed her.  So stuff it, basically.


In Sonoma Co, CA, a lawsuit has been filed by the original owner of a 10 year old tuxedo cat who was microchipped at the time he went missing several years ago.  The current owner, who says she bought the cat 5 years ago from a rescuer she met through her veterinarian, only found out the cat was chipped last year when she took him to a new vet who scanned him.  She attempted to register the chip in her own name, prompting the chip company to contact the original owner.  The original owner says she bottle fed the kitten from birth, searched for him extensively when he got lost and still wants him back.  The current owner loves him too and doesn’t want to give him up.

Had either the rescuer or the first vet scanned the cat at the time he was found, he could have been returned to the original owner.  Now two people are heartbroken over the matter and a cat is caught in the middle.


The city of Alton, IL recently eliminated funding for its ACO position, turning those duties over to police.  This week, Alton police responded to a call about an injured dog in a store parking lot.  The 15 year old dog, called Buster, had wandered away from home and apparently hurt his rear leg.  His owner had filed a missing pet report with the police department including a description of Buster and his microchip information.

A witness says she saw police coax him into their car with bologna.  State law requires the officers to take the dog to a vet’s office to be scanned for a microchip.  Once the chip’s information had been read, the owner could have been contacted.  Instead, the officers reportedly drove the dog to the AC facility where one shot him twice with a .12 gauge shotgun and the other put two bullets from his .40 caliber Glock 23 into the pet.  After Buster was dead, a chip scan provided his owner’s information and the owner was notified of his pet’s killing.  Oh and the police love animals:

“We know what our protocol has been up to this point,” said Emily Hejna, public information officer for the Alton Police Department. “We were presented yesterday with some law saying something that might contradict what what we have been using as practice.”

Rather than task the police department with figuring out how to work compliance with some law into their protocol, the city voted to reinstate the ACO.  Hopefully the ACO has – and uses – a chip scanner.  While animals are still alive.


(Thanks to everyone who sent me links for this post.)

7 thoughts on “Lost, Microchipped Pets – Emphasis on LOST

  1. Can “shelters”, pounds, police departments (who should not be running shelters, what with them being police departments and all) get any MORE lazy, indifferent, bureaucratic, and just plain impotent?

    1. The Original owners, The Aukerman’s called the Humane Society back 3 times on the 6th and 2 times on the 7th. They had no idea Sophie had been missing and stated that had they known that is what the Humane Society wanted they would have went and got her. They are still friends with the Mizikars. They have started a facebook page to answer questions. Help bring Sophie Home

  2. Going by what the “rescuer” of David said to the paper, she did not operate a rescue nor did she take steps to do any sort of stray hold or microchip check before giving him to this woman. She just fed cats in her neighborhood.

    That means she did not have “clear title” to sell him. And regardless of what the adopter’s lawyer says, even if you acted in good faith when you buy something you cannot legally buy stolen property.

    And really, am I the only ones who finds it suspect that no one in five years scanned this cat? Every single vet I have ever dealt with pushed microchips like they are going out of style. It is a easy source of income for them. Both in the fees they get from their clients and the incentives from the makers. Even “old school” vets push them because of that. And what decent rescue failed to give microchips to their animals five years ago? It’s been common practice for ten years!

      1. They probably mean she wasn’t a “real rescue”. Meaning, she worked on her own and didn’t register with the city/county/state or file for not for profit status. The vet likely knew her because she brought in cats she found there, not through any network.

        California law actually says you have to check for a microchip in lost animals. That apparently was never done.

        It’s heart breaking all around, but I have to say the original owner is the lawful one here.

      2. I agree, David should be returned to his owner. Yes, it’s heartbreaking, and no, it’s not David’s adopter’s fault that the adoption was unlawful – but it’s still the right thing to do.

        There’s also a three-year gap between the time David was lost and this contested adoption. I’d like to know how the ‘unlicensed’ rescue came by him, given that. I’d also like to know why he wasn’t scanned, since – even were there no law – it would seem to me that chips have become common enough that it’d be the first thing someone would think of to check these days. So I’d like to know if there’s some reason behind the failure other than carelessness.

  3. OMG re the Alton, IL, 15 year old Buster. :( What absolute heartless individuals. I hope payback comes their way.

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