On July 1, 2004, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s news on-line contained a story of a family whose lost dog was euthanized at a shelter in Virginia because the scanning device was not able to detect his microchip implant. Here is the story:
Lisa Massey knew little about the electronic microchip her local Banfield, The Pet Hospital, implanted in Hadden, Massey's 8-month-old American Pit Bull Terrier.
Like other pet owners who opt for the added precaution of microchipping a pet, Massey found a measure of comfort knowing that the rice-size chip increased her chances of being reunited with Hadden, were he to become lost.
So when Hadden disappeared after slipping his collar on the morning of April 12, Massey assumed she would be notified if the wayward terrier were picked up. The Stafford County, Virginia, Animal Shelter did, in fact, have custody of Hadden. But the shelter's scanners failed to detect the short-range radio frequency emitted by the dog's microchip.
After observing the mandatory, six-day holding period for stray animals, shelter staff waited four additional days for the owner to turn up. Michael Null, the shelter's chief animal control officer, explained why. "We normally try to hold onto every animal as long as we can."
On April 21, after 10 days with no inquiries about a missing American Pit Bull Terrier, Hadden was euthanized. Tragically, Massey called the shelter 30 minutes too late. She described Hadden in detail and mentioned his microchip. At that point, the dog's body was scanned again, this time with a scanner the shelter had received in January but had stored away. "Chip found," the scanner read.
When Banfield confirmed that Massey was, indeed, Hadden's owner, Null broke the news to Massey.
"They just explained that they were very sorry; that they were beside themselves; that they couldn't understand how, in fact, this happened; that they had scanned Hadden twice and nothing registered," Massey said.
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