A technological approach to the problem of lost pets in 1988
Embedded under the animal's skin, a tiny chip meant its owner would be easier to find
Back in 1988, a new solution promised to cut down on the problem of lost pets.
"Andy! Come on!" shouted reporter Bill Harrington for CBC Toronto on Sept. 2, 1988, after his golden retriever took off in an apparently staged escape. "Where'd you go? Come back!"
Andy had taken off into a densely forested ravine, and been unresponsive to Harrington's whistling and calling.
Harrington said a company called Infopet reported that 80,000 dogs and cats were lost in Canada each year.
Low odds of a reunion
"The bad news is that only 11 per cent of dogs and cats ever get back to their owners," said Infopet's Bruce Keith.
Without tags, dogs who ended up at the pound couldn't be matched to an owner. Even tattoos could be "hard to read," said Harrington.
And even when they could, it turned out the owners had moved.
"So Andy stays behind bars, facing an uncertain future," said Harrington, as barking could be heard and the camera panned across a row of dogs behind bars.
But the injection of a "tiny chip" could make all the difference.
"Any veterinarian can do it, painlessly," said Harrington, as a large syringe was used on Andy. "Just a jab in the neck."
'System of the future'
A scanner was then used to read the chip's number, which was displayed on an attached device.
That number had been recorded on paper when the pet was injected, and the number sent to Infopet's "central computer system."
"This will be the system of the future, as far as the identification of animals of all types," said veterinarian Paul McCutcheon.
Harrington said humane societies and vets in North America could read the chip.
"The only catch is, it costs you $40 to get your pet into the system," he added. (That's about $76 in 2020 dollars.)
But the price of a reunion was worth it.
"Andy! There you are!" said Harrington, scratching his "best friend" after the cage was opened and the pair was together again.