Can you imagine being reunited with a pet more than a half decade after losing them in a wildfire evacuation?
Mike Dewald of KCBS Radio recently reported a truly amazing story about a cat, presumed lost in the Tubbs fire in 2017, who was reunited with its family six (6) years later! Even more miraculous was that the cat survived in spite of a medical condition that had left him with only four teeth.
The animal had been microchipped. We encourage microchipping, though many people don't understand how it works. It's not the same technology as a Tile or an Apple AirTag, which lets you track location. Instead, it's a teeny, tiny little chip about the size of a grain of rice, which can be read with a hand-held scanner at any animal hospital or animal rescue center.
The tiny microchip is implanted just under the skin, usually between the shoulder blades, using a needle. It doesn't require anesthesia. From there, just register your contact information, and that's it. If you move, you'll want to update your contact information.
If you want to actually track your animal using an app, then you can couple a microchip with an AirTag or Tile collar. Your contact info on an ID tag or engraved AirTag collar can make it easy for a neighbor to get in touch. That said, collars come off, which is why we encourage microchipping.
The flip side is getting any found cats scanned. We reached out to Mike Dewald and he sent over other versions of the story, which included interview material with Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County, who facilitate such reunions. Mike pointed out that "the organization also recommended getting cats scanned as it can accelerate reunions like this one."
"That cat could have been home much quicker than it was in this particular case," said Pip Marquez de la Plata, Executive Director of Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County. "That little, tiny piece of equipment is really magic in terms of getting your animal back."
While it could have happened sooner, we're touched that Ozzie with his four teeth, after six years did finally get home. It's a potent reminder. You can make a special appointment to microchip your pet, or if you have an annual pet exam coming up you can just ask your vet to microchip them at that time (it's really that easy).
At Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital we're passionate about emergency preparedness. We encourage being "Pet Ready" for earthquakes and other disasters, which these days includes wildfires. Our takeaway message is simple: as we all prepare our defensible space, make sure your pet is microchipped.