The Global Positioning System (GPS) was created by the United States
Department of Defense in 1973 to monitor air traffic. The Unites States
government maintains the satellites that make up the system, but any
citizen with a GPS receiver can gain access. GPS tracking is used by
many businesses, government agencies, and private citizens. GPS can
locate a signal anywhere on the planet as long as the item being tracked
is within the range of the satellite system. Pet owners now frequently
opt to use GPS tracking for potential assistance with lost or stolen
animals. GPS devices are worn by the animal, not implanted as a chip.
Pet owners use implanted microchips for identification purposes.
The microchip ID is implanted
under your dog's skin with a hypodermic needle. The chip itself is no
larger than a pencil tip. The veterinarian injects the needle under the
skin of the dog, usually on the dog's back, between the shoulder blades.
When the needle is removed, the microchip remains under the skin. The
injection is no more involved than any other "shot" a vet may give your
dog. No anesthesia is needed for the injection.
The microchip will contain a
signal. When read by an appropriate scanner, your ownership information
will show up. If your dog becomes lost, hopefully anyone who finds the
animal will take it to a vet or shelter where the chip can be read. You
would then be contacted to come and get your dog. A common misconception
is that these ID chips contain active GPS technology in order to locate
the lost dog, but they do not. Sub-dermal microchips only provide
identification information if the dog is found. They do not generate GPS
The obvious advantage to using
sub-dermal microchip technology for identification of your dog is that a
dog's collar and ID tag can be easily lost or removed. Another
advantage is that if the dog's collar and ID tag are removed, the
microchip can easily solve any potential disputes on the ownership of a
lost or stolen dog. One disadvantage to relying on the system is that
not all veterinarians or rescues will own the scanner necessary to
retrieve the information. And the microchips do not offer any help in
actually finding a lost or stolen animal.
If you are a pet owner who wants
a guarantee of finding a lost or stolen dog, you may want to consider a
GPS collar. There are numerous products on the market. Generally, the
device is attached to your dog's collar, weighs only a few ounces, and
is waterproof. GPS collars require batteries. The signal will generate
from 100 yards to a half mile. Some products send messages via cell
phones, some use portable technology that you would carry to locate your
The optimal solution for finding
a valuable lost or stolen pet is to use both technologies: GPS tracking
and microchip identification. In a regrettable theoretical scenario,
when an animal goes missing, the GPS collar can help you find the
animal's location. The sub-dermal microchip will verify that an animal
is yours in any situation where there are questions about ownership.