HERMITAGE — With Monday recognized as National Check the Chip Day, Tails of Hope Inc. is reminding pet owners to get their animals chipped, and will even offer some chipping clinics in the future.

Despite being known for offering spaying and neutering procedures at reduced to no cost, animals taken to Tails of Hope Inc. were also micro-chipped and checked for chips, in case a potential stray turned out to be a lost pet, Executive Director Soraya Hejazi said.

“If your animal is lost, stolen or runs away and gets picked up and taken to a shelter, clinic or rescue, the first step is to scan them and see if the animal has a home,” Hejazi said.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, one in three family pets will get lost; micro-chipped dogs are more than twice as likely to be returned to their guardians; micro-chipped cats are more than 20 times as likely to be returned. Yet only six out of 10 microchips are registered.

The AVMA and the American Animal Hospital Association have since partnered to create “Check the Chip Day” to promote micro-chipping and updating registration information.

However, it’s not enough to get a pet chipped, since Hejazi said animal owners must keep their chip’s information up-to-date.

If an animal is checked for a microchip, the chip provides the contact information for the pet’s owner. So if an animal is unregistered or the owner does not update the chip’s information if, for example, the owner gets a new phone number, then the chip is useless.

“A lot of people get confused, because the chip is not a tracking device,” Hejazi said.

Normally the staff at Tails of Hope would microchip an animal during the spaying and neutering process, but the clinic recently had to temporarily close due to a lack of veterinary technicians.

Since the shortage of support staff prevents the clinic from operating at their normal hours, Hejazi said the clinic will be offering vaccinations and micro-chipping on certain dates by appointment only.

These dates include Sept. 12, Oct. 10, and Nov. 14, all of which fall on Mondays. To schedule an appointment, call 724-346-4673.

The microchip costs $18, but Hejazi said certain applicants may qualify for a discount, similar to the clinic’s spaying and neutering services.

Aside from microchips, Tails of Hope will also hold a special rabies vaccine clinic on World Rabies Day, Sept. 28.

More details will become available as the date nears, but it is strongly recommended pet owners call ahead to schedule an appointment for the rabies vaccine clinic for planning purposes, Hejazi said.

Like the microchips, the rabies vaccine was usually included with the usual round of vaccines administered during the clinic’s spaying and neutering procedures.

Although any animal is susceptible to catching rabies, Hejazi said pets that spend more time outside are at a higher risk of catching rabies, since “about 90 percent” of rabies cases involve cats or dogs that get into fights with infected wildlife, such as raccoons and skunks.

“If your pet goes outside, make sure it’s vaccinated, because rabies is a 100 percent preventable disease,” Hejazi said.

Tails of Hope officials are still searching for veterinary technicians and are willing to offer flexible schedules, such as a day a week or a month, depending on an applicant’s availability. Applicants can call 724-346-4673 or visit TailsofHopeWPA.org.

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