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Animal Control To Offer Microchipping
Microchip 1
Oakdale Animal Shelter Attendant Danielle Burke-Merritt scans a stray German Shepherd brought to the facility. If the dog is adopted out or reclaimed he will have a microchip for owner identification. - photo by RICHARD PALOMA/The Leader

In spite of your best efforts, Fido or Fluffy slipped out an open door or gate and vanished. If the pet was wearing a collar and identification tag, chances are good that you’ll get him back.

But what if the collar comes off or there was no collar at all?

To protect their pets in this scenario, many responsible owners turn to technology and the miracle in the form of an implanted microchip that can result in a phone call if the dog or cat is picked up by animal control officers.

At the recent Oakdale City Council meeting, Interim Police Chief Lester Jenkins introduced a proposal to have the Oakdale Police Department, partially supplemented by the City of Riverbank, purchase equipment to implement a microchip program.

The City of Riverbank contracts with the Oakdale Police Department for its animal control services.

Chief Jenkins reported that last year the Oakdale Animal Shelter took in over 1800 dogs and cats, most of which did not have any form of identification. The average hold time for an impounded animal is six days.

There are many benefits to the program proposed by Jenkins, who hopes microchipping would diminish the shelter’s euthanasia rate. Some owners, according to the chief, are reluctant to contact the shelter or don’t know where the shelter is located. The microchips would reunite owners and save them the heartache associated with a lost pet. Another advantage is to decrease shelter overcrowding.

The initial cost for each city is $2,625 which would include 1,000 chips and a reader.

The program is expected to be cost neutral since the money spent will be recouped. The city plans to charge only $20 to microchip a pet. The $20 fee would be added to the adoption charge and reclamation fees the city currently charges for pets. The service would also be available to the general public who wish to have their pets microchipped, resident or not, for a $20 fee.

The procedure at private offices can be as much as $60 plus registration costs.

Microchips are tiny transponders, about the size of a grain of rice, that use radio frequency waves to transmit information about your pet. They’re implanted just under the skin, usually right between the shoulder blades.

“We’ve gotten a lot of requests for this service,” said Oakdale Animal Control Officer Kelly Vassallo. “We’re going to have a lot of positive results.”

Vassallo said the plan could be mobile, with them offering the service at various city events such as the Farmer’s Market.

“This will also be great for our repeat offenders that we don’t immediately recognize,” said Shelter Attendant Danielle Merritt. “We’ll be able to scan incomings and contact their owner right away.”

Studies indicate that three out of every four lost pets embedded with microchips are reunited with their owners. Without the device, a pet stands about a 1 in 10 chance of going home. Statewide, about 1 million pets are impounded every year.

Half of those stories end unhappily with them being euthanized due to overcrowding.

Various humane societies, pet organizations and Oakdale Animal Control Services strongly encourage all pet owners to have their animals microchipped.