Microchipping a pet is a loving necessity for reuniting quickly with family when lost from home

Officer holding cat

Officer Chelsea Guzman is one of 15 animal control officers at Pasadena Humane who help reunite lost pets with their families.


My sister Laura remembers the date, Dec. 14, 1971, the day that Deke died. We were supposed to decorate the Christmas tree that night. Instead, Mama and Laura found Deke on Magnolia Avenue as they were coming home from Laura’s dance lesson. Deke had apparently gotten out, attempted to follow Mama as she drove to pick up Laura, and had been hit by a car.

Deke was my sister Susan’s Pekinese. When Susan came home from college a couple of days later for the holidays, she was inconsolable. I was six years old at the time. The sight of Deke’s lifeless body before we buried him made an indelible impression on me.

No matter how much we love our pets and how careful we are, sometimes they escape our watchful eyes. My dog Sueshi somehow found her way out a couple of years ago, not long after moving to Pasadena. Luckily, a neighbor saw her about a block from our house and brought her home.

Like other shelters providing Animal Care and Control, Pasadena Humane often responds to calls regarding stray dogs. In the past, the routine procedure was for our animal control officers to bring the dogs to the shelter, where we hoped owners would come to reclaim their lost pets.

Over the past couple of years, as we have been focusing efforts on preventing animals from coming into the shelter whenever possible, we have changed our procedures regarding strays.

Now our animal control officers carry microchip scanners, laptops and cell phones in their trucks. If a pet is microchipped, officers can scan to find the microchip number, research the information associated with the microchip, contact the owner, and take the pet directly home without it ever having to come to the shelter. Returning lost pets to owners is one of our happiest outcomes for strays.

This was especially true for Buddy, a sweet corgi recently found wandering the streets of Altadena. This lost dog was found by a good Samaritan, who then alerted us and looked after him until Animal Control Officer Chelsea Guzman arrived. Officer Guzman scanned Buddy for a microchip and contacted the microchip company to get the owner’s information. Thankfully, she was able to get in touch with Wendy, the pet owner, and take the dog home where he was reunited with his family.

I’m so glad that Buddy is home where he belongs, that he was microchipped and that his owner provided the microchip company with her up-to-date contact information. Too often, pet owners either never register their pet with the microchip company or forget to notify the company of a change in address or phone number.

Microchipping, along with a collar with a tag, is one of the best things you can do to help ensure your pets make it back home if they are lost. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, help us return your pet to you by making sure your contact information is accurate.

Returning lost pets to owners is just one of the many ways Pasadena Humane is working to be more than a shelter. We are an animal resource center for the community. Our first goal is to keep pets with the families who love them whenever possible by providing resources, like free pet food and temporary boarding, for families in crisis.

By reserving the shelter as a last resort and haven for animals that have no other safe alternative, we are able to provide the medical care and behavior attention that sick, injured, abused and neglected pets need to have another chance at finding loving homes they deserve. Of course, all pets adopted from Pasadena Humane are microchipped, vaccinated and spayed or neutered.

Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on March 11, 2022.