Microchipping – an easy, inexpensive insurance policy for your pet should they become lost

A collar and tag can be an easy way for a neighbour or police officer or ranger to identify your pet and give you a call. But what if they lose their collar or someone takes your animal and removes it?

Have all your questions answered about microchipping below for permanent, lifetime identification of your animal anywhere in Australia.

Microchipping and registration provides for the permanent, lifetime identification of all dogs and cats in New South Wales.

A microchip is a silicone chip about the size of a grain of rice. A number is stored inside the chip, and this number can be read by a hand-held scanner. The microchip is inserted under the skin between the shoulders of your dog or cat. Your dog or cat only needs to be microchipped once during its lifetime; the microchip permanently identifies the dog or cat with a unique number.

It is the law that all dogs and cats must be microchipped before they are sold or given away, or by the age of 12 weeks (whichever comes first).

Please note: Your name and address are not stored on the microchip inside your pet, only a unique number is stored on the microchip. In order to tie the microchip number to your contact details, you must register your pet.

Registration involves registering your pet’s microchip number with your local council. Your pet’s microchip number is matched with your name and contact details on the council’s computer and on the Companion Animal Register database. Note that if your contact details change, you need to update these with your council, otherwise your pet cannot be reunited with you if they become lost.

All dogs and cats must be registered by the time they are 6 months old. They must be microchipped before they can be registered.

Lost or injured dogs and cats are often taken to veterinary clinics, council animal pounds, or to the RSPCA. All of these have microchip scanners. They scan the number of the microchip and then contact the Companion Animal Register to find the details of the owners. If your details are up to date, you will then be contacted and asked to reclaim your animal.

Unfortunately, every year, there are many animals which are not able to be reunited with their owners despite being microchipped – if the contact details of the owner are old ones, there is no way that the owner can be contacted.

Unfortunately, if your dog or cat is lost outside of New South Wales, there is no guarantee that the companion Animal Register will be contacted to find your pet’s home. If you are likely to be traveling with your animal outside of NSW, it may be wise to register your animal with a national animal registry (in addition to your council registration). One such registry is the Australian Animal Register (AAR). A one-off fee of $5.00 will give you the extra security of knowing that your animal can be reunited with you even if lost interstate. Registering with a national registry is not optional.

Only a limited number of Departmental staff has access to the Companion Animal Register owner details. When an animal pound, veterinary clinic or the RSPCA contact the Companion Animal Registry, they must provide an identification code just to ask an authorised person in the Department of Local Government to access the Register. The staff at the Registry contact the owner, and the owner then contacts the veterinary clinic or pound where the dog or cat is being held.

All dogs are required to wear a collar and tag. The tag should have engraved your dog’s name and your telephone number. A collar and tag is optional for cats that have a microchip. A collar and tag is a simple and cheap way to put a second form of identification on your pet, and we recommend that all pets wear them. Please note that councils no longer provide registration tags, there is simply no need for them.

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