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L.A. City Council considers requiring pet owners to implant microchips in their recovered dogs and cats

December 14, 2009 |  2:02 pm


The Los Angeles City Council is considering requiring owners to implant microchip IDs in their lost dogs and cats when they pick them up from area shelters.

Linda J. Barth, assistant general manager for L.A. Animal Services, said area animal shelters already implant microchips in every dog and cat adopted. Owners pay $15 to $25.

Under the proposed ordinance presented to the council public safety committee today, owners will be charged a $15 fee.

“It’s more about getting pets safely reunited,” Barth said. “It’s a humane issue.” There are more than 4,000 dogs captured each year, more of which have the microchips, she said. The technology is “clearly an effective tool,” she said.

The chips cost under $10, and funds generated by the plan would go to pay for services provided by local animal shelters, Barth said.

Under the plan, when an animal is returned to a shelter, animal control personnel would scan the microchips -- which are the size of a grain of rice and implanted into the back of the neck -- to find a unique nine-digit number that identifies pets and their owners through a private database.

City Councilman Tony Cardenas said shelters would reap the benefits of not having to house animals in often overcrowded shelters. “The fact that we’re willing to give a discount in the long run saves us money,” Cardenas said. “If [animals] aren’t chipped, it will be longer for them to be returned. It is a cost-saving measure.”

Phyllis M. Daugherty, director of the nonprofit organization Animal Issues Movement, said while implanting microchips doesn’t fix everything, it’s a good start. “If I take in the dog or cat and keep it and love it, that license should proceed [the implanted chip],” Daugherty said. “There are some downsides; it’s not always rosy.”

Cats stand to benefit the most from being getting microchips, she said.

“When [a cat is] lost, the chances of it getting help, unless it's friendly and walks right up to someone, are slim,” Daugherty said. “The city doesn’t pick up strays. The cat doesn’t stand a chance.”

The procedure is quick and painless for the animal, Daugherty said, but it’s crucial the owner remembers to update the information on the chip in case he or she moves or ownership of the pet changes.

The proposal now goes to the full City Council for a possible vote, which Barth said could be a few months away.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Los Angeles Times file.