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Microchips mandatory for Houston pets; How to get free chips, avoid $100 fines

The grace period for the 2022 law that makes microchips mandatory ends on Wednesday. BARC is offering three chances to get them free.

HOUSTON — It’s probably every dog or cat owner’s worst nightmare: your pet goes missing and you can't find them anywhere.

It happens all the time, especially during severe weather or holidays with fireworks.

“You could be the best pet owner in the world, but when a stressful situation happens, anything, anything can happen," BARC Deputy Director Cory Stottlemyer said.

Having your pet microchipped can be the difference between being reunited and never seeing them again. In fact, an American Veterinary Medical Association Journal study showed that lost dogs with chips are twice as likely to be returned to their owners. Chipped cats are 38% likely to be returned.

In Houston, a city ordinance now requires all dog and cat owners to microchip their four-legged family members. The law was passed last January and the grace period for enforcing it ends Wednesday.

Where to get free microchips

BARC, the City of Houston's Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, is offering residents free microchips while supplies last on the following days.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 31
  • Monday, Feb. 6
  • Tuesday, Feb. 7

They'll be available from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at 3300 Carr St. BARC is even offering a drive-through option to make the process easier and faster.

If you can't make it to a free event, BARC offers chips for $15 at its wellness center. That's a lot cheaper than the fine you could pay if you don't comply. Stottlemyer said the fine is usually $100.

"But depending on what the judge decides, it's a kind of range of fees, so it can go up to $500," he warned.

The new ordinance could help save more animals that wind up at BARC and other shelters.

“A lot of stray animals get picked up in the field daily and the last thing we want is for owned pets to take up space that we'd rather, you know, leave for some of those stray animals that are not owned," Stottlemyer said.

If you rescued your dog or cat from a local shelter, they're probably already good to go since the chips are usually included in the adoption fees.

If you're not sure, your veterinarian can check to see if the animal is already chipped.


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