Middletown Township has become the first municipality in New Jersey to partner with the Found Animals Foundation to offer a pet reunification program.
The Found Animal Foundation’s Microchip and Registry program offers affordable microchips and scanners to fellow non-profits as well as access to a free-for-life national microchip registry called the Found Animals Registry. The foundation is an independently funded nonprofit that works to help reduce the number of pets euthanized in shelters each year.
The microchip and lifetime registration into the national database will cost residents only $10 per cat or dog. The Health Department’s Animal Control Division staffers will be trained to implant the microchips and assist with the registration process. Animals with new implants or existing chips can be entered into the Found Animals Registry. The only caveat is the animal must be licensed in Middletown, explained Health Department Director Rich DeBenedetto. He added there is no fee to add an existing chip number into the system.
“We are so proud of this pioneer partnership with the Found Animal Foundation,” said Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger. “We hope the reunification program will help shorten the amount of time a pet is away from its family. It’s stressful for both the pet and their owners to be separated due to unforeseen circumstances.”
“We are looking forward to strong participation from the community as this program promises to be an effective and efficient way to return lost pets to their owners,” said Health Department Director Richard DeBenedetto.
Microchipping can also be a financial benefit. “The faster we can return an animal the less it costs. Animal Control can quickly locate a pet’s owner if the animal is included in the registry. If the owner cannot be located immediately, the animal is sent to a shelter where daily board fees are charged,” DeBenedetto said.
Animal control has sent 99 cats and dogs to the shelter so far this year; another 183 cats and dogs were sheltered in 2015 and 250 animals in 2014. Animal control makes every effort to locate and return the pet to the owner before it is sent to a shelter. The majority of the animals caught township-wide are cats.
Middletown is expected to be ready to offer the pet reunification program to residents this fall.