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City OKs Chips for Animal Identification

January 15, 1998|SYLVIA L. OLIANDE

Pet identification in the city of Los Angeles went high-tech Wednesday, as the City Council approved a program that would electronically tag pets to better reunite them with their owners.

By implanting an electronic device the size of a rice kernel into the scruff of a pet's neck, animal regulation officials are hoping to reduce the number of dogs and cats euthanized because shelters are unable to find their owners.

The two-year pilot program will require that all animals adopted out of the city's six shelters be fitted with the device for a $15 fee. Shelters also will fit other pets for a $25 fee.

Although the council was nearly unanimous in its support, several members worried that an increase in adoption fees would mean a decrease in pet adoptions.

Councilman Mike Hernandez, the only member to vote against the program, was concerned that the city is pricing animals out of reach for low-income residents. The new program would raise the fee for dogs to $89 and cats to $65.

Councilwoman Laura Chick said city officials will monitor the program closely and, if there a negative correlation is found, the issue would be brought up again for review before the end of two years.

Sharon Morris, interim general manager of the Department of Animal Services, said she does not believe adoptions will go down with the fee increase.

Although the tagging program has been discussed for years, she said it was not implemented until now because the technology used by competing manufacturers wasn't uniform.

The city will contract with American Veterinary Identification Devices of Norco to install scanners that are able to read a variety of chips.

About 60% of the animals that are brought to the shelters are ultimately euthanized, Morris said. Officials hope the new system will significantly decrease that number.

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