Poppy is a good natured, quiet dog, but like many animals, she is full of curiosity, with a strong sense of adventure. A few weeks ago, when Oscar’s parents were away on holiday, Poppy was being cared for by Oscar and a few other folk who were staying in the family home. Poppy gets on well with everyone, but the change in routine meant that she must have been aware that her normal routine was not quite normal, and perhaps she was extra vigilant for any new opportunities to enjoy herself.
Poppy’s chance came when she was allowed out into the garden early one morning, and she discovered that somebody had accidentally left the gate open by a crack. She pushed it open wider, wriggled through, and she was off, free to go wherever she wanted.
In the end, she didn’t go far: she scampered a few hundred yards to the car park of the local leisure centre. The folk who run the cafe there spotted her ambling around the car park, and they managed to call her in with the assistance of a few tasty biscuit treats. Poppy seemed happy enough to be with her new friends, but they had a problem: who owned this little dog? Where did she live? How could she be reunited with her owners?
By chance, I happened to be passing by at that moment: I’d just finished my morning swim in the leisure centre. I offered to help, putting the little dog in the back of my car and taking her up to my vet clinic in Bray. I then used our microchip scanner to check to see if she was microchipped. The scanner “beeped” as I waved it over her body, showing up the unique fifteen-digit number that’s carried by a microchip. I then typed that number into the online search engine dedicated to pet microchips, and moments later, I was able to retrieve the full details of her owner: name, address, phone number and email.
As I dialled the mobile number to make contact the registered owner of the little dog, I realised from the unusual dial tone that they were overseas. They answered after a couple of rings, and the mystery was immediately solved. I found myself speaking to Oscar’s parents: they explained that they were away, but that they’d contact Oscar at once, and he’d come and collect Poppy.
Half an hour later, Oscar arrived at our clinic: Poppy was delighted to see him, happy to be heading homewards.
Since March 2016, it’s been compulsory for all dogs in Ireland to be microchipped. Despite this, a recent survey found that only around 40% of dogs carry a microchip, which is disappointing. Nobody can be sure when their dog will slip out of an open door. If a dog doesn’t carry identification, there’s a high chance that they will never be returned to you. An identity tag on the collar is the simplest way to do this, but there’s always a risk that this will fall off or be removed. A microchip is a tamper-proof, permanent way of identifying a dog.
If Poppy hadn’t been microchipped, I would have had no way of finding out the name of her owner. I would have been obliged to call the Local Authority dog warden, and Poppy would have been taken to the local dog pound. She would have been kept there for five days, and hopefully her owner would have contacted the pound, looking for her. But if nobody had contacted the pound, she would have become the property of the State. She would probably have been rehomed.
If you care about your pet dog or cat, do like Poppy’s owners: get them microchipped.