Even when a dog has been microchipped, he can be denied entry in certain countries.
This is because different countries use different microchips. Some have nine or ten digits, others have fifteen digits. A microchip reader that reads nine-digit microchips can't read fifteen-digit microchips, and so on. For example, an Australian microchip can't be scanned by an America microchip reading device. (At least, that was the case when I returned to the United States from Australia, ten years ago) So just because your dog has been microchipped doesn't necessarily mean he can travel out of the United States and be admitted to a European country.
Our veterinarian uses a microchip manufactured by a company called HomeAgain, which produces a 15-digit microchip that can be read -- HomeAgain says on their website -- at over 50 international airports around the world. So we got that one. It's apparently the size of a grain of rice. The needle they use to implant it looks huge, but Xingxing didn't feel a thing.
But then I got to thinking. There are a lot more than 50 international airports in the world. When we disembark in Venice Airport, will the personnel at that particular airport be able to read Xingxing's microchip?
The logical thing to do was to check with HomeAgain. So that's what I've been trying to do, this weekend. First, I sent them an email. No response. Then I tried telephoning. I got put on hold. I got left on hold. Eventually, I was disconnected. Tried again. Finally got someone. You'll be fine, he said. But he said it the way people say things when they're speaking from a script. And of course, he didn't have a surname. Nobody who works in Customer Service anywhere in the world has a surname.
Suppose they can't read the microchip? I ask him. What should we do? Should we contact you?
You can contact us 24 hours a day, he said. But you'll be fine.
I gotta say, I'm not convinced. Of course, the important thing is to think positive. Or maybe we should rent a microchip scanner, and carry it with us.
Meanwhile, Xingxing needs another rabies shot. He's up to date, not due until next year. But the rabies shots don't count unless they're administered after he's got the microchip. And it's got to be done at least 21 days before we travel. So we'll do it Monday.
Traveling with a dog is like painting a house. Preparation is everything.