20 February 2006

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					Burlington County Chapter                                                     Contact: Elaine Sullivan
1632 Route 38                                                                   Phone: (609) 702-7211
Lumberton, NJ 08048                                                        EMAIL:
(609) 267-9595

20 February 2006

       PET AID Team Launches Burlington County Microchipping Initiative
The PET AID Team, an animal-disaster preparedness resource of the Burlington County
Chapter of the American Red Cross, has recently begun a microchipping program for Burlington
County pets. A microchip is a small, injectable, permanent means of identification. Should an
animal get lost, either through accidental separation from its guardian, by theft, or by disaster,
this microchip can represent a pet’s “free phone call home.”

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and other hurricanes that pulverized the Gulf Coast states,
attention to disaster plans for animals has commanded a sharper focus. Tens of thousands of
animals are believed to have perished. According to the Humane Society of the United States
approximately 8,000 animals were rescued. Of those rescued, it is estimated that perhaps 20-
25% have been reunited with their owners. The vast majority of these animals had no
identification, making reunification with their owners highly unlikely.

Although Burlington County may not seem like an area prone to large-scale disasters, one need
only recall the flooding of July 2004, to realize that it is not immune to hazards. Other prominent
risks in the county include forest fires, severe snowstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes, to name
a few. Man-made disasters, such as hazardous spills along major highways or chemical plant
explosions, also represent a significant threat. Although smaller in scale, but more frequent in
occurrence, apartment fires, single-residence fires, or roof collapses can be equally devastating
to those who endure them. And all offer the potential for animals to be separated from their

And even absent a huge disaster, millions of dogs and cats enter U.S. shelters annually as lost
or “stray” animals. The number of these animals that are reunited with their families, once they
enter a shelter, is discouragingly small. According to No Voice Left Behind, a California-based
group dedicated to ending America’s homeless pet tragedy, only 16% of dogs and 2% of cats
are actually returned to their homes.

The PET AID Team, since its inception in 2001, has advocated for the inclusion of pets in family
disaster planning efforts. Proper identification worn by a pet, with accurate contact information,
is of paramount importance. Should an animal lose its collar and ID tags, a microchip adds a

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crucial, second level of protection for a displaced animal. In the U.S., over 11 million animals
are now protected with microchips, according to Avid Microchip Identification Systems, Inc, a
major microchip manufacturer. And not only dogs and cats, but horses, birds, fish and reptiles
have also benefited from this technology.

The PET AID Team is using AVID Microchips in their new program. The microchip is about the
size of a grain of rice and is implanted through a hypodermic needle under the skin of the
animal. According to the manufacturer, the microchip acts like a tiny radio station encased in a
biocompatible glass cylinder. The microchip scanner, or reader, sends out a signal which
bounces back from the microchip and is received by the scanner as a 9-digit number. Each
animal has its own 9-digit number associated with its AVID microchip. Once the number is
plugged into the computer database, the pet can be identified and reunited with its owner.
AVID’s PETtrac recovery hotline is operational 24/7.

The first PET AID Team microchipping clinic was held in conjunction with the Tabernacle
Township Rabies Clinic on January 14th of this year. Gordon Stull, VMD, who volunteers his
services at the rabies clinic, also offered to implant the microchips for the PET AID Team.
Joann O’Neill, a veterinary technician, graciously assisted with the effort. Dr. Stull is a strong
advocate of the microchip technology; he was instrumental in launching the Burlington County
Cat Initiative, a feral cat population control program that employs the AVID microchip in its
groundbreaking work. His help has been invaluable in getting the PET AID Team microchipping
program started.

The next microchipping clinic will be held at the Shamong Rabies Clinic, on Sat., March 4 th, from
10am-noon, at the municipal garage located on Willow Grove Road. Although this clinic is for
township residents only, the PET AID Team plans to hold additional microchipping clinics, open
to all Burlington County residents, at the American Red Cross Chapter headquarters in
Lumberton. The first of these will be held in early May, in conjunction with our spring canine
blood drive.

The goal of the PET AID Team microchipping program is to make access to microchip
technology as easy and as affordable as possible. Although the fee for microchipping a pet
normally runs $25-$35 or more, the group will hold the cost to $10 or less. This fee will include
both the microchip and the registration. Because the PET AID Team’s funding is separate from
the general American Red Cross funding, the team hopes to find local animal-friendly
organizations or businesses that might be interested in helping with this initiative. This would
make microchipping even more affordable for multi-pet households or those on very limited

For more information about the PET AID Team and the new microchipping program, you can
contact Elaine Sullivan at (609) 702-7211 or Annmarie Young at (609) 458-1025. You can also
visit the PET AID website at: To learn more about AVID
microchips, visit:


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