View Full Version : Microchip touted as solution to stray-cat problem

04-22-2005, 11:25 AM

Microchip touted as solution to stray-cat problem

By: DAVE DOWNEY - Staff Writer

RIVERSIDE ---- To reduce the number of stray cats roaming the region, the county is looking to plant microchips in the shoulders of felines and provide spay-neuter services seven days a week.

The county Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to endorse the strategies, as well as several others that were recommended in a report by a 10-member committee composed of animal activists and animal shelter operators.

Panel members said their recommendations aim at taking stray cats off the street, reducing the number of cats being euthanized, boosting adoption rates and reuniting more pets with owners.

Just 1 percent of cats that wind up in county animal shelters are returned to owners, the report said. A microchip program would significantly boost that rate by providing a way for shelter operators to promptly inform owners that their pets turned up, said panel Chairwoman Sheila Ehrlich, who operates a dog placement program in the Riverside area.

"We feel if the shelter staff could notify the owners, more cats would be claimed and returned to their home," the panel wrote in its report. "When a cat doesn't come home for dinner, many people think the cat will show up later."

Owners tend to wait several days before contacting shelters to see if their pets turned up. The problem with that, said the panel, is the county holds cats only five days. By the time many owners come looking for their tabbies, they already have been put down, the report said.

That wouldn't happen if a cat had a microchip the size of a rice grain embedded in its shoulder, Ehrlich said. With such an identifying chip, shelter operators can use scanners to promptly determine who the owner is. Microchip programs for pet identification have become increasingly popular both with private pet-care providers and government animal-control agencies.

"All they have to do is scan the cat, get the number, call a registry and find out whose cat disappeared," she said. "They're not going to euthanize a microchipped cat until they find out who the owner is and contact them."

The panel proposed making microchips mandatory for all cats adopted from county shelters and increasing the cat adoption fee to $30 from $20 to cover the cost.

As well, the committee suggested offering to owners who come to shelters to reclaim cats the option of implanting microchips in their pets for no extra cost. Committee members said the county should give pet owners the option of implanting microchips in pets whenever it holds rabies vaccination clinics.

The proposal to charge people who adopt cats an additional $10 was opposed by one panel member, Garry Grant of Meadowbrook. He suggested the additional cost would discriminate against poor families and prevent many from being able to take cats home.

"It's denying the opportunity for a low-income person to adopt an animal," Grant said.

Robert Miller, county director of animal services, told supervisors he did not believe the fee increase would turn many would-be pet owners away.

"I think $10 is a pretty minimal fee," Miller said.

Ehrlich agreed.

"That's cheap," she said after the meeting. "Most of the vets charge $40 to $50 for a microchip." She said it was her opinion that if someone could not afford the proposed adoption fee, they should not be taking a pet home in the first place.

"If they can't afford $30 for a cat, then they can't afford to pay vet bills," Ehrlich said.

Other panel recommendations call on the county to:

Hire a second full-time veterinarian.

Buy and staff a spay-neuter mobile clinic.

Operate spay-neuter clinics seven days a week, because many owners do not have time to bring their pets in to be altered during the work week.

Establish a spay-neuter voucher program.

Open county shelters on Sunday to increase adoptions.

Build a better rapport with animal rescue groups and waive the $5-per-animal fee they are charged to pick up cats from county shelters.

Boost the animal services budget and hire more shelter staff.

Expand educational programs that talk about the pet overpopulation problem.

Miller told supervisors he intends to institute all the recommendations during the coming weeks and months.

In a related matter, the county accepted a report from a task force that reviewed recommendations submitted last summer by the Humane Society of United States. The society was called in by supervisors to conduct an audit of the county's Riverside shelter following public outcry about poor conditions. The recommendations outlined ways to make the shelter cleaner and more disease-free for animals, as well as easier for the public to use. The task force's report suggests the shelter is on pace to do most of the ideas.

Laura's Babies
04-22-2005, 12:11 PM
That micro chipping is a great idea! The shelters would have to check each one that comes in a strays but that takes only moments to do and could save so MANY lives.. It would also keep people from dumping pets they no longer want. I wish that would happen worldwide!!

04-22-2005, 12:17 PM
That is an excellent idea,as The Found Cats,were micro chipped,three years ago,afte the Moose,gaveme a scare,after disappearing,for two months.And Scrappy 2,is automatically,done,at adoption.That will certainly,help,with responsible Pet Guardians,but sadly,there will always be those,who dont care,and get tired,of thier Pets.But if taht saves Pets Lives,I am all,for it!

Micro Chipped Michael.

04-22-2005, 12:26 PM
Originally posted by Laura's Babies
That micro chipping is a great idea! The shelters would have to check each one that comes in a strays but that takes only moments to do and could save so MANY lives.. It would also keep people from dumping pets they no longer want. I wish that would happen worldwide!!
I agree that microchipping can save lives. ;) Would you believe Kirby's microchipped? :confused: :D He came all too close to losing his life too, if the shelter hadn't decided to let me adopt the sweet boy. I still think about his sister who looked just like my Sweet Pea. :( Gary, I'm sure it gives you piece of mind to know your Found Cats are protected like that. ;) :)

04-22-2005, 06:39 PM
All of our cats are chipped, and our Vet doesn't charge a penny.

04-23-2005, 01:48 PM
If Kuhio had been microchipped, she would probably be home right now. As it was, we did not find out that she was at the shelter until the day after she was put to sleep. It's hard to forgive ourselves for not finding her in time. When I think of her alone and scared those last 3 days of her life, it just breaks my heart. She deserved better. They all do.