Microchip Hunters helped reunite 143 lost pets with owners in 2020

Lost dog

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- An upside of the COVID-19 pandemic is fewer dogs and cats ran away from home last year.

When Chicago Animal Care and Control or other shelters can’t locate an owner because of a dead-end microchip they ask local volunteer detectives, or Microchip Hunters, like Jeanette Garlow.

She and about 10 other volunteers connected through the Facebook group, Lost Dogs Illinois, found the pandemic made for less work this year.

"I think there were fewer animals that ran off for a little while, because people were home and noticed if they disappeared quicker," Garlow said.

A microchip is not a panacea, though.

"It is the assumption all the time. 'Well my dog is chipped, somebody will call me.' But they don't know that it is not registered," Garlow said.

She recommends having your vet scan your pet periodically to make sure the chip hasn't moved and to get the chip number, and then calling the manufacturer to update your information.

"We have had cases where it's registered, but the number is transposed or one number is entered incorrectly; and people don't know," Garlow said.

If your vet can't find the chip, she suggests you have them scan a couple of places.

"Between the shoulder blades. Sometimes they do move a little bit," she said. "They have been found in legs."

Microchip Hunters reunited 143 lost pets with their owners last year - fewer than in prior years, because of the pandemic.

The group finds the owner about 60 percent of the time, but that doesn’t always translate into a reunion. Garlow said sometimes the owner has died or moved away, but 2020 was full of happy reunions for her crew of hunters.