“Most people say ‘My dog never gets out,’” Lead Animal Control Officer Cindy Doak said. “Well yesterday we had thunder and lightning and we probably had 20 calls yesterday about dogs running at large because of the storm. The dog that is normally sweet and nice gets in a panic situation and they get out, and a lot of times they are a long way from home.”
Doak and several Washoe County team members spent Tuesday afternoon inserting microchips dogs and cats for local residents during its free microchipping clinic as part of a yearlong campaign providing Washoe County residents a chance to protect their animals. The goal of 5,000 free microchips to residents in 2013 is on pace to exceed expectations as Washoe County Regional Animal Services has given 3,800 since February, not including the line of people waiting for their turn at the Scolaris on Disc Drive Tuesday.
“Once a microchip is implanted it is registered with us at Washoe County Animal Control,” Doak said. “If the animal is picked up the officer scans it in the field, goes to the truck computer and can look up the microchip with the pictures and they know exactly which dog it is, and they can call the owner and drop the animal off before it even makes it to the shelter.
“It saves everybody time, it saves the cost of the people and the cost of our staff to take care of those animals. What we are trying to do by microchipping everybody the pet can get back home to its owner right from the field.”
Each microchip is about the size of a “grain of rice” and not only helps cut out the ‘middle-man’ of sending an animal to the county shelter for pickup, but it allows owners to retrieve their pets from cities and even states away, according to Doak. She added that retrieval of a pet is not the only benefit of having an animal microchipped.
“We have had a few times where there has been a dispute of ownership,” Doak said, “And by scanning the dog we can find out who the dog was originally registered to. We have found dogs that we have scanned that belong to somebody who lost it for a few years.
“We have had people fly from out of state to come pick up a cat. It does happen and we have had a lot of animals who would have otherwise never found home actually be found because of the microchip.”
Local resident Jim Ripley brought his cat Tiny in for a microchip Tuesday and said he had witnessed the effectiveness of the microchips with his dog. He said seeing the animal services truck offering free microchips was a “no-brainer” for him.
“I had my dog Bandit microchipped a while ago and the time I had him get out, he was found a few miles away and I would have never known,” Ripley said. “After seeing the proof it works and I knew I had to have it done for my cat as well.
“Animals get lost all the time and this is just a great way to always keep track of them and it is really worth it if you care about your animal. Sometimes they can stray so far away that there is really no way for anybody who picks it up to know it is yours.”
Another local resident, Cheryl Foster, wasn’t planning to have her dog Katie microchipped Tuesday afternoon but knew it was as good a time as any to have it done. With a rescue dog at home already implanted with a microchip, she said the “simple fact that dogs get out” was enough for her to bring in her newest dog.
“I knew I was going to have Katie microchipped and I was planning to make an appointment with the vet to have it done,” Foster said. “When I was walking into the store I saw the truck, heard it was free and it was an easy decision from there. It is nice not having to worry if they get out because you just never know what is going to happen.”
Washoe County Regional Animal Services has planned several free microchipping clinics throughout the area in the coming months with May’s major clinics being from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Walk for Animals event on May 18 at the Sparks Marina, and from 12 to 4 p.m. on May 21 at Washoe County Senior Services in Reno. Doak said the Walk for Animals clinic will likely serve about 500 animals compared to the between 70 and 280 the smaller clinics have served thus far.
“It is beneficial to (owners) and it is beneficial to us. It makes everybody’s job easier,” Doak said. “We have people calling in the middle of the night and crying on the phone because their pet is a family member who is lost and they will do anything to get it back.”