The Los Angeles City Council is considering requiring pet owners to implant microchip ID's in their recovered dogs and cats.
Local animal shelters already implant microchips in every dog and cat adopted, said Linda J. Barth, assistant general manager for L.A. Animal Services, with new owners paying $15 to $25 for the implants.
Under the new ordinance, owners whose lost animals are recovered would be charged $15.
"It's more about getting pets safely reunited," Barth said. "It's a humane issue."
More than 4,000 dogs are captured annually, more of which have the microchips with each passing year, she said. The technology is "clearly an effective tool," she said.
The chips cost under $10, and funds generated by the plan would help pay for services provided by local animal shelters, Barth said.
Under the plan, when a dog or cat is returned to a shelter, animal control personnel would scan the microchip, which is the size of a grain of rice and implanted into the back of the neck, to find a unique nine-digit number that identifies pets and their owners through a private database.
Councilman Tony Cardenas said shelters would reap the benefits of not having to house animals in often overcrowded facilities. "The fact that we're willing to give a discount in the long run saves us money," Cardenas said. If animals "aren't chipped, it will be longer for them to be returned. It is a cost-saving measure."
Phyllis M. Daugherty, director of the nonprofit organization Animal Issues Movement, said that although implanting microchips doesn't fix everything, it's a good start.
"If I take in the dog or cat and keep it and love it, that license should proceed," Daugherty said, referring to the implanted chip.
Cats stand to benefit more from getting microchips, she said.
When a cat is lost, "The chances of it getting help, unless it's friendly and walks right up to someone, are slim," Daugherty said. "The city doesn't pick up strays. The cat doesn't stand a chance."
The chip implant procedure is quick and painless for the animal, Daugherty said, but it's crucial that the owner update the information on the chip in case he or she moves or ownership of the pet changes. Owners receive information on how to do that when their pets receive a chip.
The proposal was presented to the council's Public Safety Committee on Monday. It must now go to the full City Council for a vote, which Barth said could be a few months away.