Big hat tip to the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners (IFDCO) for their excellent work earlier this summer on Illinois SB 1637, which amends the state's Animal Control Act, improving the welfare of animals (and by extension, their owners) by:
- Requiring all impounded cats and dogs to be scanned for microchips and examined for other forms of identification (tags, tattoos, etc.) twice. First upon intake, and once again before transfer, adoption, or euthanasia if the animal isn't claimed.
- Requiring contact attempts by telephone and/or email if the owner is known and his or her information is listed. Previously, all that was necessary was a letter by standard mail.
- Requiring, in cases where a chip is present, but the owner cannot be located or refuses to pick up the animal, that the shelter contact the chip implanter and any secondary contacts listed by the chip database, to see if they will reclaim the animal.
This animal-friendly, common sense bill was widely supported, but you never want to strut until the governor's signature is dry -- which, as of last Wednesday, it finally is. Great work for pets and their owners, IFDCO!
So Why is this a Big Deal?
These may seem like small, common sense changes, but to the pet who is returned home or given a new lease on life, or to the owner who is desperate to recover his lost companion, it can mean everything.
Extra safeguards like these are important, especially in life-or-death situations.
Mistakes happen. Remember the horrific screwup last month, where a dog (who had already bitten two others) sent a child to the hospital... only to be adopted out to a family, while another dog was mistakenly euthanized? The animal control warden has since resigned, in case you're wondering.
Overzealous rescue attempts happen. Just last night in Montreal, Canada, a rescue organization swooped in to "save" 19 supposedly abandoned dogs, even though the owner and another rescue organization are already working together to find them homes.
And let's not forget that some people are so plugged in, they almost never check their snail mail... though a phone call or email would be sure to get their attention. And then there are other people who simply don't microchip their pets (typically out of financial, ideological, or health concerns), and use alternate methods of identification.
These are but a few examples -- there are countless situations where something as simple as a phone call or second attempt at identification can save a pet's life. And that's a Pretty Big Deal.
It took one microchip and one phone call to reunite Rhia with her owner seven years after she was stolen.