It’s happened in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and in other corners around the globe. A family loses its beloved cat. Years later, and from miles away, the family gets a call that someone found her. They’re reunited and grateful for what feels like a miracle. But actually, that miracle is made possible by something the size of a grain of rice: a microchip.

Check the Chip Day, on August 15, is a reminder to the world about the importance of getting owned animals and community cats microchipped, and for those who care for animals to scan for microchips. Alley Cat Allies’ Plan to Scan® campaign promotes this lifesaving effort year-round.

In the United States, municipalities are taking notice of the importance of microchipping. Brookville, Florida, proclaimed May as Chip Your Pet Month. In February, the ASPCA gave microchip scanners to the New York City Police Department so officers can scan animals for microchips in the field.

Studies show that microchipped cats are more than 20 times more likely to be returned to their owners than cats who aren’t microchipped. Getting cats home is critical, since 70 percent of all catsand nearly 100 percent of community catswho enter shelters nationwide are killed.

Veterinarians implant a microchip in the cat, which serves as a permanent ID tag. The microchip is registered with the owner’s information, so shelter staff or veterinarians will know who to contact if the cat gets lost and brought to them. For owned animals, it’s also important to use appropriate collars and ID tags, along with microchips.

Microchips also help reunite community cats with their colonies. Community cats can be microchipped with their caregivers’ information. When animal control officers pick up a community cat or an individual erroneously brings one to the shelter, the cat can be scanned for a microchip and the caregiver can be contacted to return the cat to her colony.

In fact, scanning for microchips can prevent community cats from going to the shelter at all. If animal control officers scan cats in the field, they can see that community cats belong where they are and won’t waste time or resources taking them to the shelter.

This Check the Chip Day, do your part to help save lives! Make sure the owned and community cats you care for have microchips that are registered with your correct information. If you’re an animal shelter employee, animal control officer, or a veterinarian, make sure to scan every animal who comes into your care for a microchip, even community cats! Encourage community members to microchip the animals they care forfamilies will stay together because of it.