Recently, a story made the local news regarding a Yorkie from Bridge City who was found at a playground in Iowa, three years after he went missing. Animal control scanned him and discovered he had a microchip. The Yorkie’s family in Louisiana was contacted, and he flew home to be reunited with them.

Some people ask, why was the dog missing for four years if he had a microchip? Why wasn’t his identity discovered sooner, or why did his family not know where he was, since he had a chip?

A common misunderstanding about microchips is that they are tracking devices, like GPS. They are not. The location of an animal cannot be pinpointed from the microchip. Rather, a vet or shelter must scan the animal to see whether a chip is present. Only then can the owner be contacted.

Another issue with microchips is that many people will take the initial step to get the chip implanted, but they do not follow through with linking their contact information to the chip.

Shelters often microchip animals before they leave with their new owners. It is then the responsibility of the owner to register their contact information with the microchip company. If a chip is not registered, then when a lost animal is scanned, no owner contact information will be available. It then takes the extra steps of trying to find out whether the shelter or vet’s office where the chip was implanted can identify the animal’s owner. If the family has moved, it may be impossible to find the owner.

If a lost animal is picked up and the person who finds the animal just assumes ownership, then the true identity may go unknown. Or, as in the case of the Yorkie, the animal might get lost again and a shelter scans it for a chip. Without a registered microchip, the Yorkie likely would have never been reunited with his family.

Microchips provide a better chance of reunification with a missing pet; proper tags and a collar also increase the odds of a lost pet being returned. If a pet is missing, it is best to immediately alert the microchip company, file a report with all area shelters and hang fliers and talk to residents where the pet was last seen.

Owners of chipped pets should make sure to update their contact information with the microchip company when they move. We never plan for our pets to become lost, but accidents do happen, and when they do, knowing the chip information is up-to-date will help facilitate a happy reunion.

Events

ADOPTION EVENT: The Jefferson SPCA will have adoptable dogs at the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour at Laketown, 4599 Williams Blvd., Kenner. The volleyball event will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 22-24.

SECOND-CHANCE SUNDAYS: Every Sunday in May, the Louisiana SPCA will reduce the adoption fee of all cats and dogs 6 months and older by 50 percent. Adoption hours on Sundays are from noon to 4 p.m. The Louisiana SPCA is at 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans, and its phone number is (504) 368-5191.

DINING FOR A CAUSE: Every Wednesday in May, Zea Café, 1655 Hickory Ave., Harahan, will donate a portion of your bill to Animal Rescue New Orleans when patrons mention ARNO.

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, you can send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact information to lostandfound@la-spca.org. In Jefferson Parish, email molsen@jeffparish.net and bbourgeois @jeffparish.net, and in St. Bernard Parish, email cluna@sbpg.net.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at animalrescuecolumn@ gmail.com, www.animal rescueneworleans.org or call its recorded information line at (504) 571-1900.