Last updated: 28 Oct, 2020
Published on: 4 Sep, 2013
Bring lost pets home: microchipping and registry
We all carry around that fear that one of our loved ones may go missing, but what about your pets. Dogs and cats are innately predisposed to wander and escape, and can easily become lost if you are not overly vigilant. And even if you do everything to stop your pet from escaping, such as building well-secured fences, and using strong leads and harnesses when walking, they still have an infuriating habit of getting lost.
So, what can you do to give you and your family the best chance of locating your furry baby in the unfortunate circumstances that they become lost? The most effective thing you can do is to correctly identify your pet as your own.
This involves three things; ensuring your pet always has an identifying collar ID with your most up to date phone number on it, microchipping your pet, and registering your pet with the local council. This enables pounds, veterinary clinics, shelters and even members of the public to identify your pet and contact you as soon as your animal is located.
There are a number of trendy solutions for creating an ID tag but the important things to remember are; use an engraved tag or other permanent solution, handwritten information can be hard to read and can become smudged over time. Ensure the tag is firmly attached to your pet’s collar, flimsy keyrings can stretch and pull through. And make sure your details are always up to date, including your pet’s name and most importantly your phone number.
Additionally, some councils require you to have your address on your pet’s ID tag and may provide you with a registration tag that is required to be shown at all times.
Microchipping and registration
Although regulations do vary amongst councils and states, most require you by law to, microchip your pet by three months of age, register your pet by six months of age, and ensure your registration details are kept updated for the life of the dog or cat.
So what exactly is involved? The process is actually quite simple and can be broken down into the following steps.
- When you visit your veterinary clinic for your pet’s final vaccination, which is usually around three months of age, ask your vet to implant a microchip at the same time. The microchip is roughly the size of a grain of rice and is implanted under the skin between the animal’s shoulder blades. Sometimes there is a small amount of pain associated with the implantation, and using local anaesthetic cream on the skin prior to implantation can reduce this. Over the course of your pet’s life, microchips can migrate and move from between the shoulder blades, making finding the microchip difficult. At your annual vaccination visit, ask your vet to check that your pet’s chip is still easily scannable.
- Once microchipped, your veterinarian will ask you to fill out a form. The vet will then send off the microchip information to a microchip register, such as the Companion Animal Register, and you will be given a carbon copy of the microchip information for your records. Once the details have been entered at the register, a certificate of identification is sent to you from the relevant microchip registry.
- Then contact your local council or go online to access a permanent identification form.
- Take your completed permanent identification form, certificate of identification, payment and any other relevant forms (such as a desexing certificate from your local vet), to your local council. Once registered, some councils will send you a registration tag that you should place on your pet’s collar.
It is important to check with your local council what the specific registration requirements are for your state and local area, as they tend to vary. A guide for the state requirements can be found below, however, consulting your local council is still important.
|State||Age registration is required||Registration length|
|Western Australia||3 months||1 or 3 years and renewal by 1st November each year|
|South Australia||3 months||1 year and renewal by 1st July each year|
|New South Wales||6 months(microchipped by 3 months)||Lifetime|
|Northern Territory||3 months||1 year, and renewal by 1st July each year, microchipped animals can be registered for their lifetime.|
|Queensland||3 months||1 year and renewal by 1st July each year|
|Victoria||3 months||1 year and renewal by 10th April each year|
|Tasmania||6 months of age for both microchipping and registration||1 year and renewal by 31st July|
|Australian Capital Territory||8 weeks for both microchipping and registration||Lifetime|
The whole process of microchipping and registering your pet is relatively inexpensive. The cost of microchip implantation alone is roughly $40-$50 as an add-on to a consultation, and registration fees vary considerably between desexed and non-desexed animals, at roughly $40 compared to $150 respectively – a good incentive to de-sex your pets. Fees for concession holders are even less, with many councils offering free registration for your first pet.
If you fail to microchip and register your pet by six months of age, you can face a fine of $165, or up to $1,320 if you own a restricted breed.
But the most important reason to microchip and register your pet is if your dog or cat becomes lost, anyone with a microchip scanner (such as vet clinic, pound, shelter, and so on) can scan your pet’s microchip details, and access your contact details. This allows you to be easily found, and your pet quickly reunited with you.
Image: Murphy ~ a 5-year-old Kelpie mix who is on the lookout for his forever home and available for adoption via Wally's Dog Rescue.