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Microchipping Dogs Solves Two Problems
This pup’s owners and rabies data can be seen using the microchip scanner.
Sunday, June 9, 2024


Mountain Humane was created as the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley in 1982, in part to pair pet owners with lost or abandoned pets.

But that mission has been frustrated over the past 42 years by the lack of pet owners getting dog license tags.

“For most of those years we have been challenged with getting dog owners to purchase a dog license,” said Sarah Weidner, marketing manager for Mountain Humane. “Our best guess is that less than 5 percent of our Wood River Valley dogs wear a dog license tag. This makes it difficult to execute our Lost & Found Program because most dogs found at large have no license tag.”

Besides just serving as a way to united lost pets with their owners, the licensing program is driven by the requirement that any dog living in Blaine County needs to be current with rabies vaccines, Weidner said. If there is no recorded license, there is no proof that the dog is current with its rabies vaccination.

In 2022, Weidner said, Mountain Humane began looking for a more effective dog license management program with a database for tracking both rabies vaccine compliance and pet identification to assist in reuniting lost animals with their owners.

“Our research led us to the City of Austin, Texas, where they replaced their conventional dog license program with microchipping. Microchipping not only tracks rabies vaccine requirements, but also pet ownership information. Historical data from the City of Austin documents that more pets are being returned to their owners using the microchip program. This means fewer animals are impounded and municipalities are seeing savings in annual impound contract fees.  A win-win scenario,” she said.

Following suit, Mountain Humane  presented a microchipping program to the Blaine County commissioners who agreed to amend county legislation regarding dog licensing and microchipping.

“To help achieve the switch from licensing to microchipping, Mountain Humane made the commitment to offer free microchipping to any Blaine County resident for their dogs and cats. And, with assistance from a generous supporter, we provided all Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey, and Bellevue law enforcement officers a microchip scanner for their vehicle, as well as training on how to use the scanners. The primary goal is for officers to return lost animals directly to their homes instead of bringing them to the Mountain Humane Impound Facility,” Weidner said.

Since transitioning the program in late 2023, Mountain Humane has implanted 874 microchips. By comparison, the animal welfare center sold 255 licenses in 2023.

“We continue to sell dog licenses to members of the community who prefer the conventional dog tag,” Weidner said.

To learn more, visit Or, call 208-788-4351.

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