Has a friend or neighbor ever told you they'd like to come back as your pampered pet in their next life?
While I've never said that out loud to anyone, I certainly have thought it on occasion. No one can deny that some pets have got quite the life!
A statistic I read recently backs up this perception: In the US alone, pet owners spent more than $47.7 billion on their estimated 164 million pets in 2010. Another example that pet owners are highly invested in their pets' well being is the growing interest in pet microchipping.
Microchipping involves inserting a small radio frequency identification (RFID) transponder encased in a tiny glass tag beneath the animal's skin. The microchip is programmed with a unique ID number. Vets and public authorities can read the glass tag with any scanner, trace a lost or stolen animal's ID number in online databases and return it to its rightful owner. The RFID tags also help organizations keep animal registration files, medical history and owner addresses up to date.
Around the world, people seem to be assessing the benefits of microchipping and acknowledging its value. There's a trend toward increased regulation that is gaining momentum; both governments and animal associations recommend microchipping to ensure full protection of animals.
In Switzerland, pet tagging is now required for all dogs as well as horses. The pet databases supporting these efforts help governments monitor pet populations, and enable authorities to easily contact pet owners. Among European Union member countries, tagging is now a requirement for taking your dog or cat across national borders, and it has helped make traveling with pets much easier. With an RFID tag and a pet passport, customs officials can quickly confirm identity, check vaccinations and send you on your way. In the UK, while tagging is still voluntary, an estimated 30% of the 20 million cats and dogs are already microchipped and the parliaments of Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England are having more frequent discussions about regulation.
In the U.S., where only 10% of pets are currently identified with an RFID transponder, the month of June has been named National Microchipping Month. Animal advocacy groups are working to raise awareness of the benefits of microchipping companion animals to protect their safety. A nationwide pet database does not yet exist in the U.S., but individual organizations and some state governments have established state-wide databases which help make microchipping easier and more popular. Even better, microchipping is now more affordable than ever.
So the next time you're at your vet or local pet store buying Fido the latest nutritional supplement or glow-in-the-dark booties, take a moment to ask about the other trend - the one that will last your pet's entire lifetime and help protect your pet from harm.