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Microchipping - dogs and cats
by Tiffany Dawson, VN and Francesca Matthews, BVSc
All dogs registered in NZ for the first time (except farm dogs used for stock control) must be microchipped. Puppies must be registered with the local council by 3 months of age and a microchip must be implanted by 5 months.
Dogs classified as dangerous or menacing, dogs impounded but not registered and dogs registered but impounded twice are also required to be microchipped.
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is easily inserted during a consultation while the dog is conscious or alternatively while the dog is being speyed or neutered.
Micrchipping is a simple lifelong way to identify dogs and link them to their owner and results in a speedy return of lost, stolen or injured animals.
The microchip number for each dog is registered on a database so the micochip number can then be traced back to the owner. There are several options for microchip registration. It is compulsory to register it with your local council. A certificate is given to you at the time of microchipping, which you should give a copy of to the council.
However the council database is NOT directly available to the public or veterinary clinics due to privacy laws.
There is another database called the NZ companion animal register and is easily accessible on the internet by veterinary clinics. A form is filled out at the time of microchipping and the veterinary clinic will complete the registration process for the owner.
Prior to this database being established the AAR, which is an Australasian database, was used and it is still available to use. Like the NZ companion animal register it too is accessible to veterinary clinics.
There is no law regarding the microchipping of cats however it is becoming increasing popular as it is an effective way to trace the owner of a lost cat, particularly if the cat is not wearing a collar with any ID on it.
What about my Cat?
Yes you can and yes you should!
It is arguable that there is probably more benefit from microchipping a cat than a dog (although we agree that it is important to have all dogs microchipped too).
Cats are more commonly lost and it is harder to find the owners, as they roam, sometimes significant distances, especially at night. They are also more commonly hit by cars and more commonly presented to a veterinary clinic or other animal rescue centre like the SPCA without owners.
If the cat is microchipped it is a quick and easy process to scan the cat, then to contact the owners, get the cat reunited with its owners, and enable full veterinarinary attention to be offered. In the event that no owner is available, veterinary care is given to keep the animal as comfortable as possible but full treatment is not undertaken until an owner is identified.
Cats can be microchipped simply and easily, just like a dog. This can be done during a routine visit, as a separate visit or during its desexing operation. The cost of microchipping is small compare with the stress and heart ache of being unable to find your lost cat.
Remember: once you have microchipped your cat, keep your details updated on the microchipping register so that you can be contacted in the even of loosing you cat.