Lexington County requiring microchips for pets

By Al Dozier

Pet owners in Lexington County will be required by law to have microchips injected into their dogs.

That requirement is part of the new regulations approved by Lexington County Council designed to help better identify lost and missing pets that often wind up in animal shelters.
Enforcement of the ordinance will be delayed for a while as the county gets the word out on the new regulations. But there’s no rush, according to Lexington County Councilman Todd Cullum.

“It’s going to take about a year to get the word out,” Cullum said.

Cullum said there would be exceptions for dogs with health issues, but a veterinarian would have to approve the exemption.

Previously, pet owners in Lexington County were only required to attach an identification tag to their dog’s collar.

The microchip contains a unique identification number that can be scanned by animal shelters, veterinarians, and other pet-related organizations to retrieve the identification of the owner. Lost pets could immediately be returned to their owners.

While it may sound scary, it’s a fairly simple process, according to Brittany Jones, chief officer of Lexington County’s Animal Control Center. She said the injection “only takes a few seconds” and involves a tiny chip that does not impose much pain. She said the county’s shelters can provide the implant for a cost of $10.

A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a grain of rice that is injected under the pet’s skin using a hypodermic needle. It is no more painful than a typical injection although the needle is slightly larger.

County officials say it’s an important procedure to use at shelters where stray and lost pets often show up after being found wandering around. These pets could wind up being euthanized unless they are able to go through an adoption process.

In addition to providing identification measures for lost dogs, the new ordinance also targets “backyard breeders” that are causing an over-population in the county’s shelter. The new ordinance would impose restrictions on who is allowed to breed, and limit the number of kittens and puppies that are brought into the shelter.

Officials say back yard breeders “seeking quick money” are part of the problem because they are not breeding in accordance with health conditions, temperament and breed standards.
Jones said she is very pleased with the new ordinance.

“I do feel like it will help a lot,” she said.