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West Lafayette's Lost Pets To Be Microchipped Under New City Law

Tony Webster

The West Lafayette City Council has passed an ordinance mandating that any animal coming to a shelter be implanted with a microchip.

The chips work as a kind of barcode that can be scanned by shelter employees when an animal is lost or injured.

Almost Home Humane Society executive director Stacy Rogers says the Humane Society has implanted more than 12,000 microchips in the past nine years.

She believes that is directly related to West Lafayette’s high, 87-percent return-to-owner rate for lost dogs.

“When they are found, they can be back to their owner right away and especially if they arrive injured. We get all of the injured pets – if your pet gets out and it’s hit by a car, Purdue is going to scan your pet for a microchip immediately, she says. “So, that’s going to be the fastest way to ensure that you get to choose the treatment path for your pet if it’s hurt.”

Rogers says the ordinance will help keep the return rate high, since 20-percent of lost pets will eventually get lost again.

If a pet is lost, there will be a $15 fee for the microchip implant. For owners who opt to get the microchip beforehand, the Humane Society offers the microchips every day for $20.

The only councilor to vote against the ordinance was Nick DeBoer (D-1st), who says he asked last month if lost pets were a significant problem.

The Almost Home Humane Society says within the last year, only one person has declined getting their pet microchipped. DeBoer says that doesn’t warrant the ordinance.

“Given that reality, I thought this was an overstep of the government looking to make something illegal that didn’t have any cause to become illegal,” he says. “It seemed that people are opting in to having their animals chipped under their own volition and mandating that people buy a product when it doesn’t actually seem like it’s a problem came off as wrong to me.”

DeBoer says he’s also uncomfortable with the technological aspect of the ordinance – he thinks the microchip technology may become obsolete and need to be changed later.

The ordinance notes the Almost Home Humane Society receives around 150 lost pets per year.

A $10 redemption fee for the first impounded animal and $20 for any offense afterward would be paid to the city.

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