More than a dozen Riverside County fire stations now have microchip scanners available to residents who find lost dogs and cats and want to determine whether the pets have microchip identification tags that reveal where they belong, it was announced Friday.
“We’re getting so much great help from the public these days in getting lost pets back to the rightful owner,” Department of Animal Services Director Julie Bank said. “To that end, these 20 scanners will act as another tool for the kind people trying to reunite stray pets quickly and avoiding an overnight stay at one of our shelters.”
The Department of Animal Services offers microchipping, which involves placing readable chips just underneath dogs’ and cats’ skin, as a means of identifying their owners and how to contact them.
The chip scanning devices were previously only available at animal shelters, but officials hope that by making them more widely available at firehouses, the process of reconnecting wandering canines and felines with their keepers will go faster.
Bank noted that firefighters will not be actively assisting in using the scanners. However, they will advise visitors to stations where the chip scanners are located and how to operate them. An instructional sheet will also be attached to the scanners, stating how to access information and contact pet owners.
“The Riverside County Fire Department is dedicated to assist in getting beloved pets reunited with their owners,” Chief Bill Weiser said. “We are happy to be a part of this community assistance program with our partners at animal services.”
People who find lost pets should be aware that fire stations are only accessible during regular business hours — not in the middle of the night — and even during daylight hours, crews may be on calls, and the stations closed.
The stations currently supplied with scanners are in Bermuda Dunes, Cherry Valley, Corona, Eastvale, French Valley, Garner Valley, Highgrove, Lake Hills, Lakeland Village, Little Lake, Nuview, Pine Cove, Thousand Palms, Valley Vista, Winchester and Woodcrest.
More than one scanner may have been placed with a station.
The scanner deployment program was funded by a grant received by the Department of Animal Services.