8 August 1997

Get Fido chipped

WHETHER you have a well bred pedigree dog or a loveable scruff of a pet mongrel, chances are that it will get lost or stray away from home at least once in its lifetime.

Possibly it will be minus its collar and name tag by the time someone finds it, perhaps many miles from home. Unhappily, many dogs are humanely destroyed in animal homes each week because their owners cannot be identified.

Game Conservancy members attending the CLA Game Fair had the opportunity to avoid this distressing scenario by having their dogs implanted with a tiny micro chip carrying an identification code unique to that animal and owner. Members had this service provided free although the Identichip implant usually costs £20-£25.

"We have 27,000 members in the Game Conservancy Trust and the majority of them own a working dog. We asked what we could do for dog handlers and we found that the thing that concerned them most was the loss of a dog and its safe retrieval," explained David Hind. "We knew about micro-chipping, which has been done to about 300,000 animals of all types, and felt this was an appropriate thing to offer here.

Under the terms of its charitable trust however, the GCT could not fund the cost and Eukanuba came up with sponsorship.

The implantation seems painless, judging from the unflinching stance of Charlie, a poodle owned by Mrs Gilmour of Downham Market, who was chipped while Farmlife was present. The chip is placed under the loose skin at the back of the neck, after the animal has been tested with a hand-held scanner to ensure it does not already carry one.

The identification information is recorded on Petlog, a central computer open 24 hours a day. It is standard procedure at RSPCA, SSPCA and Cats Protection League homes to routinely scan animals they house, and it is common practice in many rescue kennels and dog wardens pounds.

When your details come up you are contacted straight away.

"It is well worth having done, particularly for working dogs. For example a labrador that had been professionally trained and working for two years would be worth around £2000 – it only takes a second or two to chip it," says Mr Hind.

The GCT is looking for ways to make the service available free to all its members but some might feel that the peace of mind these chips offer make it worth paying for themselves.

Tessa Gates

Mrs Gilmours dog Charlie had his micro chip inserted without fuss.