May is Chip Your Pet Month, a time to educate and celebrate that a chip the size of a grain of rice can save a cat’s life. Microchipping an animal, whether an indoor or a community cat, is the best way to ensure they will find their way back home. More cities around the nation understand the benefits of microchipping and are encouraging citizens to microchip the animals they care for.

On May 7, Brooksville, Florida, made a proclamation at a city council meeting to officially declare May as Chip Your Pet Month in the city. The proclamation supports the microchipping of all owned animals and recognizes “this tiny chip … could make the difference between your pet finding their way home or being lost to you forever.” The proclamation comes on the heels of another lifesaving change for cats in Brooksville’s Hernando County. In April, the county unanimously approved a new TNR program with Alley Cat Allies’ support.

New York City is also going farther to harness the lifesaving power of the microchip. In February, the ASPCA announced a collaboration with the New York City Police Department to provide a microchip scanner to every precinct and police service area in the city. Hundreds of officers attended a microchip scanner demonstration to learn how to properly use the device. NYPD officers will now be armed with a tool to reunite lost animals with their families. Microchips and scanners also assist in the investigation of cruelty cases by leading officers directly to an abused or neglected animal’s owner.

These cities are an inspiration on this Chip Your Pet Month. This month, and every month, Alley Cat Allies’ Plan to Scan Campaign is helping even more communities adopt lifesaving microchip support by educating citizens, officials, shelter staff, animal control officers, and veterinarians about the importance of microchipping and scanning.

Microchips are becoming mainstream, but if officials, veterinarians, and others fail to scan animals for them, they won’t be useful. Alley Cat Allies will spread the word until all veterinarians encourage their clients to microchip, and all shelters adopt protocols to immediately scan each animal on intake. Alley Cat Allies guides can help your local shelter and veterinary clinic develop their own scanning policies.

Consider these scenarios: A hurricane sweeps through your city and your family is separated from your cat. A community cat in a colony you care for is picked up by a well-meaning but uninformed citizen or animal control officer and taken to a shelter. In these cases, a microchip could be the difference between finding your cat or losing her forever. Cats who are not microchipped are reunited with their family less than 2 percent of the time.

For community cats, microchips are especially vital. Because they are not socialized to people and are unadoptable, nearly 100 percent of community cats are killed in shelters nationwide. If these cats are microchipped, shelter staff can quickly locate their caregivers and get them out of the shelter and back outdoors. Community cats form strong bonds within their colony, so it’s important to return them to their specific outdoor home.

This Chip Your Pet Month, celebrate by microchipping your animals (if you haven’t already) and informing your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and local shelter and veterinary staff about microchipping and scanning. Together, we can help create more happy endings for cats!