Pets lost on the island may find an easier way home thanks to a local veterinarian who has equipped local law enforcement officers with microchip readers.
Instead of taking the long way home, through Manatee County Animal Services, costing pet owners a base fee of $100 or $180 if the pet is not spayed or neutered, local law enforcement officers can scan microchipped pets and trace the identity of the owner.
Dr. Bill Bystrom, veterinarian/owner of Island Animal Clinic, 5343 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, donated three microchip readers, one to each island law enforcement department.
Sgt. Paul Davis of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer and Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale met with Bystrom at the clinic July 16 to receive the readers get a lesson in how they work.
The scanner identifies the company that manufactured the microchip. The officers then must contact the company and get the recorded information on the pet’s owners. The companies keep two contacts that are provided by the pet owner, as well as information on the veterinarian who treats the dog.
“We’re saving people the time and money if we can find the owner before they get to animal control,” said Speciale.
The universal readers are from Home Again, which has a bulletin system that alerts veterinarians, animal services and the humane society of a missing or stolen dog within 25 miles of the reported incident.
Island law enforcement officials said it is important for pet owners to keep contact information updated with their microchip company so they can be contacted if their pet is found.
They also encouraged residents to bring their pets into any island law enforcement office to have their chip scanned if they are unsure of the record information.
Bystrom reminded pet owners not to use a neighbor’s address as a secondary contact. In the event of an emergency situation such as a hurricane evacuation, the neighbor also might be unavailable.
The Island Animal Clinic will place a microchip in a pet for $10 during hurricane season, instead of the usual $25 fee. There’s an additional $20 fee to register contacts with the microchip company.