Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon Jr. said he is trying to protect everyone in the county, including those on four legs.
So on Friday it launched a free microchip program that can help reunite owners with lost pets.
The program is undertaken in conjunction with Paws of War, a Nesconset-based non-profit organization that provides dogs and veterinary services to veterans and first responders. They held the first of three free clinics as part of a “Dog Days of Summer” initiative.
Veterans and first responders have priority, but anyone can register.
“We see far too many heartbreaking stories about animals being unchipped and ending up being euthanized” in shelters after they get lost and are returned, said Paws Founder Robert Misseri. of War. Owners sometimes find out later that “if it had been chipped, this animal would have been saved”.
The group provides free microchips which are inserted into the animals by its staff. The animal’s information is then entered into a “Lost Pet Network” database. If someone finds a lost pet, they can take it to a veterinarian or pet store, where it can be scanned for a microchip. Then the owner is contacted.
“A lot of people don’t realize how valuable a microchip can be, and we also forget how quickly an animal can detach itself, run away,” Misseri said.
Toulon, which launched the Lost Pet Network three months ago, noted that “a lot of families, especially in the post-pandemic era, have really leaned on and bonded with their pets.”
He said sheriff’s officers will be notified via the system if a pet is missing, and while they won’t go out to find the animal – human criminals remain the priority – they will keep an eye out. if it is in their area.
Bill Leonhardt, 76, a Vietnam veteran from East Patchogue, came to the clinic to get his recently acquired rescue dog, named Frank, microchipped.
“I think it’s a good thing to do,” Leonhardt said. “I try very carefully not to take him out. He’s pretty good and well-behaved, unless he sees a dog he’s not happy with, he’ll chase it, and he’s very fast.
“So having a microchip is kind of a nice feeling to know that it helps him get him back if for some reason he gets separated,” he said.
Leonhardt said the chip insertion went well.
“He was better than I expected. They stuck the needle in him and he didn’t even flinch,” he said. “He was more upset just driving around in the car.”
The next free events will take place on August 11 in Yaphank and September 17 in Patchogue. Registration is required at www.pawsofwar.org.