Dr Stephanie Sparling (left), shelter veterinarian from the city of Toronto, is implementing a microchip in a dog.

This chip truck’s the cat’s meow

A chip truck that doesn’t sell French fries might break a foodie’s heart, but this one can spare pet owners heartbreak if their pets get lost.

It’s been a year since the Toronto Animal Services launched the chip truck, a mobile unit that travels around Toronto and microchips cats and dogs. According to Robert Meerburg, an Animal Services officer, the chip truck has been in high demand since it hit the road.

“We launched the chip truck in late September last year and ran three events in 2012. And we are running 16 to 18 events this year,” Meerburg said. “We have probably about 60 people per event. Some of them are a lot busier and some are slower, depending on the weather and location.”

The size of a grain of rice, the microchip is implanted between a pet’s front shoulder blades. With the pet’s features and the owner’s contact information embedded in the chip, Meerburg says it is the best way to reunite lost pets with their owners.

“We are seeing a number of animals coming into our shelters that are still unidentified, which means they will stay there until the owners find them or we find the owners.

“It is very difficult in some cases,” he said. “So it is very important that microchip is permanent identification so that we can check where the owners are and get them back and out of our shelters.”

Having the microchip is not the final step. Meerburg says pet owners have to remember to update their contact information in the microchip if they move or change their phone number.

The microchip costs $10 for licensed pets. A package including the municipal license and a microchip sells for $35 for a dog and $25 for a cat.

It is slightly cheaper than most veterinary clinics, as the city’s veterinarian does not give the animals a series of examinations prior to implementation.

Pet owners have to bring a piece of photo identification with an address. When using the chip truck, they are advised to put the dogs on leashes and the cats in carriers.

The last chip truck for this year is scheduled for October 18 at the Nathan Phillips Square.

The service doesn’t operate during the winter as parks will be less busy, but it’s expected to be back in March 2014. For more information, please check Toronto Animal Services.