2017-08-30 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

I fear my tombstone will read: “Here lies Joanne Anderson. She never finished registering Last Hope microchips.” I’m trying, but losing the race to keep up. Last Hope has implanted over 800 microchips in dogs and many more cats since April 2016.

Last year Last Hope in Wantagh received a generous grant from Pet Peeves to purchase microchips so every pet leaving our facility would be chipped. Most dogs come to Last Hope with chips but only the few cats from other LI shelters do. Because of the grant, all kittens would be implanted with microchips while under anesthesia for spay/neuter because the chip syringe is larger and a tad more painful than a vaccine syringe. Adult cats and dogs could get their chips at Last Hope clinics.

I made the innocent mistake of saying “yes” when asked if the microchip orders could be shipped to my house, not realizing what else this entailed. I soon would be preparing each chip syringe for veterinarians who’d be spay/neutering kittens, driving chip deliveries to five different animal hospitals, holding onto paperwork needed by HomeAgain the chip company and the adopter, sending chip numbers to our cat medical spreadsheet coordinator, registering the chips to the adopters and mailing respective paperwork to HomeAgain and the new owner. There were many steps for each of the tasks in the last sentence. When I wrote the 5/26/16 “Pets” column called “Married to the Microchips” I had just discovered managing the microchips was a full-time job with no time off for good behavior. I should have filed for microchip divorce then instead of becoming the Microchip Maven.

Do not allow anyone to deliver a box like this to your door. Do not allow anyone to deliver a box like this to your door. It’s worse than that. It’s a life sentence. Friends on the phone are well-trained. When I ask: “You have one guess. What do you think I am doing now?” They invariably answer: “Microchips.”

To compare, Babylon Shelter must prepare chip syringes also. Any dog or cat needing spay or neuter is chipped while under sedation at Aldrich Animal Hospital. Pets already altered receive their chips from the shelter’s vets. However, all Babylon Shelter spay/neuters are done at one hospital, and the chips are delivered when the truck brings these pets for spay/neuter.

Meanwhile Last Hope uses five different hospitals for kitten spays. Foster parents bring their kittens from their homes to the specific hospital, or in cases when the kitten is at Last Hope, various volunteers chauffeur kittens to the vet. I deliver the individualized chips to the hospital based on spay appointments unless the kitten is at Last Hope. Then I attach packets with specific chips for the volunteer chauffeurs but these packets cannot be on the kittens’ cages because they swat them through the bars. Usually the packets are attached below the cage with post-it notes pointing to the packets. Then I hold my breath hoping the driver remembers to grab the chip packets.

If the spay is canceled because the kitten is ill or not at 2.2 pounds or more, the kittens’ chip stays at that vet. Problem is the next appointment may be at a different hospital especially if the kitten requires other surgeries like hernia repair or eye procedures at the same time. That chip is in limbo. Making a new one complicates record keeping.

The office at Babylon Shelter registers the chips to the adopters before they leave the shelter so there is no need to track adopters down later. Last Hope cats are in foster care or at one of five different adoption venues (Adoption Center in Wantagh; Petco Wantagh or Syosset; PetSmart Huntington Station or Bellmore). The cats and kittens are delivered to their new homes by many different volunteers. The chip paperwork is at my house, and I have to explain Microchips 101 because cat owners are less apt to be familiar with the technology. Some think it’s a GPS and it isn’t. There is a brightly colored paper in the adoption folder telling new owners to call me to register the chip. Less than 10% of the adopters actually do. New dog owners are not reliable at calling back either but they usually are aware of how microchips work.

I wind up waiting for the adopter’s contact info and calling them. It seems few folks answer their home or cell phones nowadays for unfamiliar numbers. My message is harmless: “Hi, I’m Joanne from Last Hope Animal Rescue. I am calling to register your kitten named _____’s microchip. It will only take a few minutes and registration is free.” Very few call back. Why don’t they? Do I sound like a telemarketer?

The phone call is important because besides explaining how microchips work as tiny transponders with permanent ID, I explain any future fees are for optional, extra benefits not registration which is permanent and free through Last Hope. It took me awhile to realize most people are never calling back, so now after two phone calls I register the chip to the adopter and mail them their paperwork with a longer version of my handwritten letter explaining details.

When I do get adopters on the phone, I am tired of hearing myself give the same spiel. My poor husband leaves the room because he is so sick of listening to how microchips last 25 to 30 years, how chips work as tiny transponders with 15-digit numbers, how the collar tag I am sending them was designed for a dog, blah, blah, blah.

I make deals with myself. “If I register two chips a day that will total 730 chips in a year.” Still I can’t keep up. I’ve handed out 830 chips so far. Some are unused extras at Last Hope and our vets. I’ve registered approximately 445 chips. I pray I have a few more years to step up the pace before they etch my tombstone. Right now my legacy seems a bit incomplete.

For Adoption at Last Hope, 3300 Beltagh Ave. Wantagh: “Sissy,” a one-year-old Border Collie mix, is one of the sweetest dogs ever. Owners in Kentucky sold her puppies and then turned her into their county shelter. “Twinkle” is a friendly, overlooked tabby, two years old. She was abandoned just before a snowstorm by her former owners. Call 631-671-2588 for more info (or to register your Last Hope pet’s microchip).

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