Science fiction is filled with stories about secret microchip implants tracking unsuspecting heroes. Who knew that this vision of the future already exists today…?
Fortunately, there’s a positive twist here, because it involves finding lost pets and helping them find their way home.
New Family Member
Recently, we brought a kitty home from an animal shelter. She’s a beautiful black/white/orange tabby, and I think she’s got even more energy than our seven-year-old son can muster! Needless to say, it’s quite the match up.
Before we brought her home from the shelter, I noticed that part of her paperwork included a microchip ID number. Yes, she already had a microchip tracker the size of a grain of rice implanted in the back of her neck.
(Courtesy of the animal shelter)
Technology Can Be Your Pet’s Best Friend
It’s been a while since I’ve adopted a pet, but I think these little microchips are standard issue today.
Here’s how it works… Your pet pulls a Houdini outside of your home and gets lost. Then, someone finds your pet and eventually (hopefully) brings your animal companion to a shelter, veterinarian or other location that has a microchip scanner to pull up your pet’s microchip number.
Once that happens, it’s checked against a National Pet Recovery Database.
If you’re signed up with the database, your address and phone number pop up, and the rest of the story becomes a happy ending.
The trick is… you’ve got to be signed up for all of this to work!
When you Google “pet microchip,” a bunch of companies pop up. The one our shelter had chosen to go with is HomeAgain.
When you take a look at the services offered, HomeAgain is actually a lot more than just a national database for lost pets…
- They’ve got a call center number to speak to a human being.
- They send out ‘Lost Pet Alert’ emails to the HomeAgain Pet Recovery Network in your area.
- There’s an Emergency Medical Hotline.
- They even offer ‘Travel Assistance.’
$500 towards airfare if your pet is found more than 500 miles from home.
(I thought this kind of thing only happened in the movies.)
Safety Comes at a Cost
There’s certainly a lot of support offered here when your pet has gone missing.
And no, it’s not free…
HomeAgain costs $19.99/year.
(As far as I could tell, there was no option to just sign your pet into the database without all of the other services.)
And remember, that’s twenty bucks a year over the course of hopefully 15 to 20 years. Let’s say 18 years… which means $360. And we’ll assume that the annual fee will creep up a bit over time.
So let’s call it 400 bucks.
Nobody ever said pet ownership was cheap.
Is this particular precaution worth it?
So I signed up our kitten.
Pet Microchips are Cool
Pet microchip implants can also integrate into your ‘Smart Home.’
- You can buy microchip pet doors that only let in your animals.
- Or microchip food bowls that only open up for a particular animal.
(That can help cut down on one pet raiding another’s dinner.)
Who knows what other cool tech-enabled products will be developed in the future for your pets and their microchips?
So nefarious future tech in the movies isn’t always such a bad thing in reality.
In fact, it puts a whole new spin on the popular “Terminator” phrase….
“I’ll be back.”