Posted on LDI’s Post by Page section
The topic generated a great discussion on our Facebook page. It inspired one of our fans to write an email to the Department of Agriculture. Copy of her email:
“Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me what the legal responsibility is if one finds a lost dog. I have heard you have to do our due diligence in finding the owners before keeping it as a pet or finding it a good home. Specifically, if the dog has a microchip, does the vet or animal control who reads the microchip legally bound to keep the dog while the owners are contacted. Can the finder of the dog, keep it until the owners are contacted. I searched through legislation and your website and could not find information on this. If you can cite any laws or regulations, that would be great. Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated.”
The response to her email:
“Lost” or stray dogs should be turned over to Animal Control. The Illinois Animal Control Act requires them to scan for a microchip and search for any other identification and then notify the owner. Once the dog is identified, the animal control is then required to allow the owner 7 days to pick up the dog. Keep in mind that people who lose their pet will check with animal control to see if it has been picked up or turned in. If you keep the dog, the owner may never be reunited with their pet.
Mark J. Ernst, D.V.M.
State Veterinarian / Bureau Chief
Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare
Illinois Department of Agriculture
The response to our fan’s email really didn’t answer the question. We would still like to see the law in writing.
On April 29, 2015, the Anti-cruelty Society posted this blog What’s in a name…if you don’t have proper ID?
While we are thrilled that Anti-Cruelty is promoting microchipping and ID tags as a way to get lost pets home, we would have hoped that this campaign would have been promoted soon after the ordinance was passed. There was a window of four months before the ordinance was implemented that Chicago animal welfare organizations could have offered free and low cost microchip clinics in low income and under served areas. Also, a public campaign about the change of the stray hold should have been implemented.
It is stated in Anti-Cruelty’s blog that historically the return to owner (RTO) rate is 2% for lost pets without identification or microchips. Although this may be statistically true, in our opinion, reducing the stray hold was a knee jerk reaction that will result in the missed reunions of many family pets. Implementing more proactive procedures to return more lost pets home should have been the first approach. For your review, we have included our recommendations that were presented two years ago to the Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) Management team. These recommendations were never introduced.
Here is an easy to print, clip and hang poster for your shelter or vet clinic that explains good microchip scanning procedures. (Courtesy of Animal Sheltering magazine)
Disclaimer-Lost Dogs Illinois believes all dogs should wear a collar with an up to date readable id tag and have a properly registered microchip.
We know microchips work in helping pets get home when all the pieces fall into place.
First, the animal is brought to a vet clinic, rescue/shelter or animal control facility that scans every animal entering the facility using AVMA standards and has a universal scanner with working batteries that reads all chip frequencies and then:
- Your microchip is registered to you
- Your information is up to date
- The chip is registered to the right animal
All too often we hear reports of found dogs that have chips but; they are not registered, not registered to the correct owner or the information is out of date. At events where we offer free scans to dogs many owners do not understand how microchips work and that they need to register the chip and always keep the information up to date.
So to help get the pieces into place we strongly urge you to make sure your pet’s microchip is registered to you and the proper animal and your information is always kept up to date.
Thank you for allowing us to scan your dog for a microchip at one of our events.
Keeping your microchip information up to date increases the chance that you will be successfully reunited with your dog if he is lost and ends up in a shelter or vet clinic that scans him. Many times, lost dogs are either adopted out or euthanized when the microchip information is not kept current. Shelters and vets are busy and don’t have the time to spend tracking down dead-end microchip information. Don’t let that happen to you!
We have given you the 1-800 number of the microchip company that corresponds to the brand of microchip we have detected in your dog. Call this number if:
- You are unsure if your dog’s information is up to date. Your dog should be registered to YOU with your current phone number and address. A shelter or rescue may be the secondary contact but you should be the main contact. You want to be the first person they call when your dog is found.
- You dog goes missing. The microchip company will “red flag” your dog and note that he is missing. They may also put out alerts on your behalf (but there may be an additional fee for this service).
In addition, ask your veterinarian to check your dog’s microchip every year during your annual checkup. Microchips can move, or can occasionally be deactivated when a yearly vaccination needle hits the microchip.
Remember a microchip is only as good as the information connected with it.