Reuters.com - In the weeks since the highly publicized return of long lost Willow the microchipped cat to her Colorado owners from New York City, microchipping of pets has jumped 185 percent, according to industry statistics.
News this week of the return of Petey the microchipped dog to his Tennessee home from Michigan is likely to spike those figures again.
Across the United States, 26 percent of dogs had implanted microchips in 2010 compared to 17 percent in 2009, according to an annual survey of pet owners by American Pet Products Association. Some 12 percent of cats had microchips in 2010.
Then there are bursts such as the 185 percent jump in microchip sales in the weeks after Willow's discovery, reported by Banfield Pet Hospital, a nationwide animal hospital group headquartered in Oregon.
"Clyde and Monty are our family -- we don't have children," said Charlie Dammand, explaining why she chose to implant microchips in her Exotic Shorthair Persian kitten Clyde and Golden Retriever Monty.
"I want every assurance that if they got out, I'd get them back," said Dammand, 44, an airline customer service worker from Kent, Washington.
Most shelters and humane societies implant microchips in animals before allowing them to be adopted, experts say.
While most pet owners get their animals from friends or family, 21 percent of dog and cat owners adopted them from shelters or humane societies, according to the APPA survey.
A microchip is an electronic chip about the size of a grain of rice, implanted under the skin between an animal's shoulder blades with a hypodermic needle.
It contains an identification number that can be registered in a data base with owner contact information. A hand-held scanner waved like a magic wand over a lost animal detects the chip's electronic frequency and the reunion process begins.
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Written by Barbara Goldberg
Image via Reuters.com