A story in The New York Post yesterday reported the heartwarming tale of a beagle in Georgia who was traced back to his former home in Queens, NY. Rocky squeezed under the backyard gate and vanished into the night back in 2003, leaving a six year-old girl teary-eyed and wondering of his fate until recently. Fast-forward ahead to last week, when—850 miles away—a Georgia animal shelter was performing routine microchip scans on new accessions and shelter workers no doubt heard the telltale “beep” that makes their heart leap, indicating a pet that might find its way home.Rocky was reunited with his family after his owner flew to Georgia to confirm the most unbelievable of news left on their answering machine a few days earlier. While his new sister, a poodle added to the home a year after Rocky disappeared, still isn’t sure how she feels about sharing her family, everyone else is thrilled. Rocky was turned in to the shelter in apparent good health (hopefully, he was on heartworm preventative during his time away) and seems quite happy to have a home again.This story is an excellent illustration of the power of microchips. This little device is the size of a grain of rice and costs less than $50 to implant and register permanently in a database. After 5 years in emergency practice, I tell people that they save lives, because a badly-injured stray with identification is much more likely to receive aggressive first aid while an effort to contact an owner is made (critically-injured strays lacking identification are usually humanely euthanized). While collars and tags are often lost while a pet is on the lam, microchips sit harmlessly beneath the skin over the shoulders and can’t be misplaced.But, like tags, microchips are only as good as the information they provide a pet’s rescuer with. Don’t forget to update your contact information in the registry database when you move, change phone numbers, or adopt a pet that has a pre-existing microchip (may pets purchased through pet stores have microchips for “inventory management” purposes, but their new owners aren’t informed of their presence or the need to update the registration). Most of the databases allow you to perform changes free of charge online or by phone. If your pet has a chip, and you’re not sure of which registry your pet’s chip uses, stop by and have our staff scan the chip to retrieve the registry information and chip number.While Rocky most certainly has tales of great adventures we’ll never hear, the moral of his story is clear: You never know when an accidental escape will happen; all pets who spend unsupervised time outdoors need a microchip. It just might save their lives!