You Thought You Did the Right Thing
You knew that the chances of finding a lost dog are significantly higher if it has a microchip, so when you adopted your dog, you made sure it had one.
The person who chipped your dog reminded you to register your microchip and put your contact information on it so a shelter could find you if you lost your dog.
After getting home, you register your dog’s chip with the company that made it.
Your Dog Runs Away
In the next few years you move several times but don’t update your contact information on the chip.
After your latest move your dog slips its leash and runs away when a car backfires.
Panicked and frantic, you spend the next few day days looking for your dog and putting up lost dog posters. You also call animal control to see if it has your dog. It doesn’t.
A week later you still haven’t found your dog, so you go to the animal shelter to double check if anyone has seen it.
Microchip Useless If Shelter Can’t Contact You
When you show a staff person your dog’s picture, she says someone adopted it a couple of days ago.
After your shock passes, you tell the staff person your dog has a microchip proving it belongs to you.
However, she says she couldn’t determine the dog’s owner because the phone number on the chip was disconnected.
She also called the company that made the chip but no one returned her calls.
Since the shelter couldn’t identify your dog’s owner from the information on the chip, they put it up for adoption.
Someone Else Legally Adopts Your Dog
This is not an uncommon story.
Most states require municipal shelters to hold a dog for a few days before listing it for adoption. Washington requires a minimum three day hold.
If no one claims it before the holding period expires, the shelter can legally adopt it to anyone.
Most shelters won’t say who adopted it to protect adopters’ privacy and discourage the original owner from harassing them or stealing the dog.
You could ask the shelter to contact the adopter, explain what happened, and ask if he would return your dog, but the adopter is under no obligation to do it.
You could also hire a lawyer to convince a judge to make the adopter return the dog to you. But other than taking your money, a lawyer can’t do anything because the dog legally belongs to the recent adopter.
Buy from Reputable Manufacturer and Keep Info Current
The bottom line here is that if your lost dog’s microchip information isn’t current, there is not much you can do to get it back if the shelter held it for the required amount of time before adopting it out to someone else.
You should also purchase your microchip from a reliable manufacturer. As I’ve written before , you should buy microchips from companies that give their chips unique prefix numbers.
These companies keep current data bases with their customers’ information so they can usually match the id number on their chip with the person that bought it.
But if your dog’s chip number has a 900 prefix, it came from a less reliable company that doesn’t keep accurate records of who buys their chips. Some don’t even give a number an animal control staffer can call to ID a dog’s owner.
So please, remember that you have the best chance of finding your lost dog if you get a microchip from a reputable company and ensure the information on it is always current.