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TMCNet:  Santa Cruz County animal shelter board to weigh chips Monday [Santa Cruz Sentinel, Calif.]

[December 07, 2013]

Santa Cruz County animal shelter board to weigh chips Monday [Santa Cruz Sentinel, Calif.]

(Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dec. 07--SANTA CRUZ -- County animal shelter officials are set to consider a new law that would require identifying microchips in all dogs and cats across Santa Cruz County.

The shelter's board of directors will vote on the proposed mandate at a meeting that begins at 3 p.m. Monday in the board of supervisors chambers, 701 Ocean St., fifth floor.

The proposal was up for consideration at the shelter board's October meeting but postponed due to stiff opposition from people who say the mandate is overreaching, expensive and could be a deterrent for pet owners to claim their animals.

A community forum was held in November to explain the law and allow folks to voice their concerns.

Shelter general manager Melanie Sobel said she considers the microchip a crucial tool in reuniting pets with their rightful owners and subsequently driving down the shelter's euthanasia rate.

Sobel calls the microchip, about the size of a grain of rice that gets injected like a shot between an animal's shoulder blades without anesthesia, a "no brainer" for increasing the number of lost animals who get returned home.

Sobel said 52 percent of lost dogs with a chip go back home and 38.5 percent of lost cats with a chip return home.

Of the nearly 6,000 animals who end up at the county shelter each year, roughly 20 percent are put down.

Lisa Carter, executive director of the Santa Cruz SPCA, is showing her support for the microchip mandate by offering free chips to any pet owner who can't afford it.

Carter said it will cost her nonprofit about $25 for every animal that receives the chip.

Carter said it was her experience helping to rescue dogs and cats from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that reinforced her belief that microchips are necessary.

"Only five out of the 180 animals went back to their original owners," she said. "A collar is not a ticket home, a microchip is.

"It's a way for those who don't have a voice to let us know who they are and where they belong." If passed, the proposal will go before the Board of Supervisors. Each city in the county will also have a chance to vote on it in separate public hearings held in each jurisdiction.

Follow Sentinel reporter Shanna McCord at ___ (c)2013 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) Visit the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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