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Microchips for Adopted Pets May Soon Be Mandatory

A bill working its way through the California legislature would require that all cats and dogs adopted at an animal shelter be implanted with identification microchips. In San Diego County, this practice has been in place for some time and has recently reunited families with pets lost for months at a time.

Dan DeSousa, with the county’s Department of Animal Services, said, “Every animal, as soon as they walk in to our shelters, gets scanned for a microchip. If every animal had a microchip, we’d be calling the owner right then and there.”

“Whether or not the use of the chip could save the county money on operational costs, it can definitely cut time from the pet’s stay at the shelter,” DeSousa said. “Our goal is, if you get a microchip that means we can get that animal home to you and get it home to you right away.”

More than 26,000 animals were admitted into San Diego County Shelters last year.

According to last year’s figures, 35 percent of lost dogs taken to county shelters were reunited with their owners. A more widespread use of the microchip could improve the chances a lost pet makes its way back home.

Recently, a dog missing for 18 months from its Oceanside family was found in San Marcos. The person who found the dog took it to a county animal shelter where it was scanned for the chip and reunited with its family.

San Diego County shelters offer chip implants for $20 on Thursdays.

Veterinarians also do courtesy scans on found animals, said DeSousa.

Although the use of identification chips is supported by the Humane Society, some critics have raised concerns whether the chips can cause cancer in the animal.

The bill has been passed by the state Senate and is pending Assembly approval.

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