Finding Fido: Microchips and GPS Systems

(SIOUX CITY, IA / SOUTH SIOUX CITY, NE) Christmas Eve was a whole lot fuzzier for one Sioux City family. Their dog Ozzy was safely returned after being lost for 2 days. Microchips can help identify your animal and new technology could track your pet in the very near future.

It's a pet owner's worst nightmare. Ester Andrade dropped her dog Ozzy off at The Velvet Poodle in South Sioux City.

Her daughter was having a birthday party so Ester wanted to get Ozzy groomed. But when she returned, the owner told her, Ozzy had slipped through the front door of the grooming business. Luckily, two days later - on Christmas Eve - a stranger found Ozzy and he made it home for the holidays.

Thankfully, the dog had a microchip.

"It's a permanent piece of identification that can never be taken out. So even if you lose your collar or your tag off your animals, we still scan them when they come in," says Cindy Rarrat, Owner and Operator of the Sioux City Animal Adoption and Rescue Center.

The Home Again chip is about the size of a grain of rice and it fits right in between the shoulder blades of the animal. And, the little chip has reunited more than 600,000 owners with their animals.

"First thing that shelters' have to do, is they have to scan the animal just to make sure there's no chip that's in there. And this is what the microchip looks like, and what it does, it goes between the animals shoulder blades, and then we scan. Just that easy," says Kelly Erie, from the Siouxland Humane Society.

The microchip saves the owner's information so, if the animal is found the owner is notified.
Rarrat says, many people get it confused with a GPS, a microchip can't track your animal but, she says, that technology is in the works.

"It runs off a cell phone type tower, and I've only seen one customer with those, they came in and they were registering their dog, and they had those tags on them. They said it is a little more cost prohibitive, but if it returns your animal to you, it's well worth it," says Rarrat.

According to "Consumer Reports", a GPS will run you a couple hundred dollars and only works if GPS communication is available. Rarrat says another downfall is many times the GPS is on the collar which may not always be on the dog when it goes missing.

The Siouxland Humane Society and the Sioux City Animal Adoption and Rescue Center both do microchipping at a low cost and both organizations suggest getting your pet's chip registered nationally. That way the company has your information, and can call you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.