Find Kerrigan Law - Vets Must Scan All New Patients and Microchips Prove Ownership
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The anguish of a lost or stolen pet can be a nightmare for any family. Every day that passes without finding your pet only drives that nightmare further - perpetual grief of your pets unknown fate with no closure. If your pet has been microchipped, you should have solace, but unfortunately, there are overlooked flaws in the system that could hinder the chance your pet will be returned home. Currently, microchips are not proof of ownership, and it is not a requirement for veterinarians to scan all new patients.
If microchips proved ownership and every vet was required to scan all new patients, the chances of every stolen pet being found would increase drastically, so would the likelihood of a decrease in pets being stolen or kept after being found. My family is in dire need of this rule, as we are living that nightmare right now.
On Oct 26th 2017, my family's beloved pet escaped our backyard. After constant searching, it has now been four weeks and we still have not found him. We have been door-to-door handing out flyers to neighbors, posted flyers in public locations, stores, and called local shelters and vets. We were even featured in a local news story. After such time with no results, we are now afraid that our beloved family member has been taken in and kept by total strangers. Anyone who has lost a pet knows the nightmare my family and I have been enduring for the past month. And anyone who owns a pet can certainly imagine that nightmare, and fear it. One precaution we take is to get every pet microchipped. So you would think since our dog is microchipped that he would have been reunited with us by now, right? Well, he hasn't, and that's because there is a missed opportunity to increase the benefit of a microchip.
The American Humane Association estimates over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. One in three pets will become lost at some point during their life. Of that 10 million, 2 million are stolen. Out of that 10 million, only 15 percent have been reunited with their owners by identification through the use of a microchip. That 15 % was only possible because the pet found was taken to the proper facilities by a good Samaritan. Unfortunately, as my family has learned, not everyone is a good Samaritan. Even worse, there has been a 33% rise in pet thefts. There are many horrible reason why criminals would steal our beloved fur babies, but as PAWS explains,
"Common reasons pets are stolen. The most common victims of pet theft are purebred dogs. Their pedigree has street value that can fetch thousands of dollars with little effort from or expense to the dog napper."
To complicate the problem, pedigree dogs, or even cats, can be stolen in one state, then shipped and sold to someone in another state. Most likely a state clear across the country where there is a high chance that the pet will not be recognized as stolen. Better yet, an even higher chance that the grieving owners will not know to call vets in such a large search area or look in classified ads in search of their missing pet being advertised for sale. Owners spend their time calling vets, shelters and post flyers in a very localized area where the pet was last seen or known to be. This is the nightmare my family lives in now - where do we begin to look?
We have called every vet and shelter in our local area, spanning a 25 mile radius, totalling 75 vets 5 shelters. With each call lasting 5 or more minutes. That's almost 7 hours spent calling vets. That time should have been spent pounding the pavement in search of our baby. Instead, I had to suspend my active search just to stay glued to a phone. If I knew it were mandatory for every vet to scan new patients, I wouldn't have had to repeat the following info for every call made:
“Our French Bulldog went missing on Oct 26th. He is a black brindle male with a thin white strip of hair on his chest. He has a serious stomach issue and may have seen a vet, or will definitely be needing to see a vet. There is a $5,000 reward. Tips are anonymous with no questions asked. Please, scan every new patient that fits this description and call me at (708)606-8925. ”
Surprisingly, only a handful of the vets called said they scan all new patients. One of those vets even included, "We scan every new patient because we feel it is what's best for the pet, and that's why we are here." I wholeheartedly agree with that veterinarian.
Since none of those calls have produced any results, my family can only assume now, Kerrigan has been taken to another city, county or even state. But, where do we even begin to look?!
With the The American Veterinary Medical Association stating there are 107,995 veterinarians in the U.S. as of 2016, then it would be impossible to call each and every vet. The problem is, why should we if our pets have been microchipped. To me, that census should mean there are 107,995 additional people helping to reunite us with our lost pets. They would be if the Animal Welfare Act, expanded the Public Law 101-624 under SEC. 2503. PROTECTION OF PETS, to include that all veterinarians are required, and to be reinforced by the USDA , APHIS and AVMA, to scan all new patients. This law would drastically increase the chances of stolen pets to be reunited with their owners. It would also be a great deterrent to people who decide to keep found pets, or even better yet, thieves who target purebred pets, since they will know that pet will be scanned for a microchip by every veterinarian.
The laws of the American Welfare Act have set the foundation for this provision to be possible. It increases the utilization of microchipping pets. It puts our vets, the very same veterinarians that swore an oath to do what is best for our pets, at the forefront of helping relieve us grieving pet owners with the uncertainty that our beloved pets will be found. And If a car's VIN number, or a Tv's serial number can prove ownership, why can't a microchip number not prove ownership of a pet? There is something seriously wrong with our current system if a car or TV has more rights than a pet to be reunited with its owner! So please, sign this petition to help end the nightmare every pet owner fears by demanding microchips prove ownership and all vets be required to scan all new patients for microchips to check if it has been flagged as lost or stolen.
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