Of Microchips and Mayhem

30 Mar
Dear Pet Microchip Company,
 
Thank you for the invaluable service you provide in locating lost pets with their owners. I’m sure it’s been a cash cow really rewarding venture for you.
 
I do want to suggest that some additional front-end customer service training in how to use your products effectively may be in order, based on a recent experience at a local vet’s office using your products.
 
We are blessed to share our lives with the following three animals.

 

Very nice dogs.  Also, the small one? She is a hunting breed. This becomes important.
 
One recent morning, I was interrupted from the peaceful morning routine by something sounding like this:
 
“BAD DOGS! *thwack* BAD DOGS! *thwack* NO! *thwack* BAD DOGS! *thwack* *thwack* *thwack*”
 
I ran out to the porch to see a regrettable episode of “When Animals Attack: Suburban Edition” unfolding in the backyard. A small grey cat had unfortunately wandered under the fence at the same moment the dogs had been released outside.
 
Bailey, who would be a seeker if dogs played Quidditch, had caught the cat. The corgis were moving in as bruisers. The cat was valiantly trying to scale a tree and escape. My husband, the source of the thwacking, was frantically, if ineffectively, trying to interrupt the carnage by hitting the attacking pack with a cushion from the patio chairs.
 
I moved in, grabbing one assailing dog at a time by the hindquarters and tossing them in the house while my husband continued his chair-cushion diversion attempts. Which, although not successful, did add to the bizarre nature of the scene.
 
Once they were inside, the cat ran down from the tree and behind a board. It was not bleeding, but mewing its great displeasure. I was not encouraged.
 
The children, now ready for school, became very curious. However, they were whisked away from the attack scene with with “oh no, the cat is fine.” Which is a euphemism for “is probably headed home to meet Jesus, but  I am sure He likes cats.”
 
I returned from dropping off the children. The cushion-thwacker headed to work, leaving me alone with the issue of the cat.
 
I donned gloves and a heavy jacket, and went to see if I could get it to the vet without getting hurt. 
 
Alas, the vet’s services were no longer needed. The cat had crossed the rainbow bridge.
 
So of course, there was the unfortunate issue of what to do with the deceased feline, who was wearing  no tags, but did have a collar and clearly belonged to someone. Of course. Never mind that our neighborhood has a feral cat issue. Our dogs caught the one with a collar. SIGH.
 
Trying to be responsible, I wrapped the poor thing in a towel and brought it to the vet,  hoping perhaps the cat had a microchip so its owners could be notified.
 
Here’s how *that* adventure unfolded. The way-too-perky vet tech scanned the cat.
 
“Oh good, we have a chip! The cat’s name is Ike. Here are the owner’s name and numbers so you can call.”
 
First of all, Microchip ID people, I was kind of hoping *you* had people to make that call. Specially-trained pet grief counselors, maybe? Alas, no such luck.
 
So I dialed. Praying for an answering machine. Really hard.  No deal. Ike’s owner was home.  Crapcrapcrapdamnitcrapcrapcrapcrap. Deep breath.
“Ummm, I am sorry to have to make this call, but I got your number from the microchip service, and I have some sad news about your cat, Ike.”

pause

“My cat Ike?”

“yes.”

“You’re sure it’s a cat?”

“Yes, very sure. Grey and white? Green collar?”

“Um, Ike is a giant schnauzer. We don’t have a cat.”

“Uh…..”

“And he’s in the backyard as far as I know.”
—-
“Uh…. ”

“But you’re sure it was a cat? Ike is grey and white. Should I check the backyard?”
—-
“No, definitely a cat.”

“Well, you’re really nice to call anyway.”

“Uh…. well, sorry again. I’m glad your Ike is fine. Sorry to worry you.”

“Have a good day.”

“Yeah, you too.”

click.

click.
 
I returned to the vet’s office. Told the perky vet tech that “Ike” was a giant schnauzer. So I had, in fact, made the most awkward call of my life TO THE WRONG PERSON.
 
“Oh, THAT Ike! Hahahahaha! That’s hilarious! He goes here! I know Ike. He was just in for shots and they must have scanned him to make sure his chip was working. Hahahahahaha.”
 
This was the point when I began wondering if the vet tech had a Microchip ID. Because I was contemplating murder and wondered how easy she would be to identify. Maybe that’s a good secondary market for you.
 
She scanned the cat again.
 
“Nope, no chip in this cat. I guess it was just showing the last reading from when Ike was in here. Do you want the cat back?
 
I assured her that in fact, I did *not* want the cat carcass. Would the vet dispose of it please?
 
“Yes, do you want the private cremation and we send the ashes back to you? That runs about $175. I can weigh the cat to give you an exact price.”
 
This was when my head exploded, so I’ll stop the story here.
 
However, here are my customer service recommendations: 1) Your database should differentiate between giant schnauzers and kittens. 2) You should call your own clients with the bad news. 3) Anyone who says “that is hilarious!” about an error causing the wrong pet owner to be notified should be microchipped under each fingernail. Sans anesthesia.
 
Love,
Caring Pet Owner
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15 Responses to “Of Microchips and Mayhem”

  1. Bridget March 30, 2009 at 11:13 am #

    Dear Pet Microchip Company,
    Another suggestion for you while lettergirl’s at it: you should also make sure that if you make a product that is going to be injected into my pet, it should work on EVERY SINGLE scanner out there. Not just *your* brand of scanner. It doesn’t do any good if no one can read it, and I was pretty pissed that I had to “double-chip” my dogs.

  2. ingrid March 30, 2009 at 11:41 am #

    Just another reason why I’m a mean mama and won’t give my children a pet other than a brother and sister. Shouldn’t that be enough?

    Sorry about you having to deal with all that.
    ~ingrid

  3. dawn March 30, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    yes, and can we also add that your microchip may can cancer in some animals and you should not tell the local shelters that they should in turn FORCE new adoptive pet owners to have to have this chip inserted into the pet. I would have preferred the choice to have it or not and be made aware that the chip may cause cancer. warning labels are good.

  4. Elle March 30, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    But it’s all in the name of making money. They don’t care if the chips actually work, you silly.

  5. Matt March 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    Wow I would like to hear whether or not you had to pay to get SOMEONE ELSE’S CAT cremated! Did you?? I’d love to hear the rest of the story, it seems quite tumultous, as trips to the vet most always are.
    Sorry about your cruddy experience.

  6. lettergirl March 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    Matt, yes, I paid the “group cremation” rate. Also known as the “what is the least amount of money I can pay you so that I don’t have to put the dead cat BACK IN MY CAR?” rate

  7. lettergirl March 30, 2009 at 1:29 pm #

    Also, Bridget — yikes! That’s not good. So what if you have chip A but the animal shelter has scanner B? Out of luck? We have considered chipping the Jack Russell because she is the escape queen.

    But then Dawn said the “c” word, plus our experience with “Ike” and your comment = thinking twice.

  8. Tami Lyn (a.k.a. Casey) March 30, 2009 at 2:00 pm #

    Did she not understand that it wasn’t actually your cat?

    And most important, did she not realize that she should have never given out a phone number? That is a huge no-no.

    I did giggle at the story-not about the poor cat crossing the rainbow bridge to heaven, but you just have a way with words!

    I agree, I want to hear the rest of the story 🙂

  9. RuthWells March 30, 2009 at 2:27 pm #

    Time for the Postal family to get a new vet, methinks. That is unconscionable from first to last.

  10. lettergirl March 30, 2009 at 2:43 pm #

    Oh, to be clear — definitely NOT our vet. I went to the animal hospital a block away because I knew they had a scanner and wanted to minimize the drive with a dead cat in back!!!

  11. Tara P March 30, 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    Lord have mercy, lettergirl! I don’t even know where to start, but I am kind of curious about what happened when your head exploded. You have the most interesting experiences! I’m so glad I found your blog!

  12. LGV March 30, 2009 at 5:25 pm #

    Fire-up the crematorium and queue the Muppets “Rainbow Connection”

  13. Hatta March 30, 2009 at 5:44 pm #

    My dog came with one of these chips as a “perk” getting all the info uploaded onto it was complecated mainly because we were not given directions. Any way ideally if your dog kills another animal you should. First tie up the dead animal in a plastic bag. Then put it in a safe place away from animals and children. Then call Animal Services with directions as to how Animal Services can retrieve and dispose of the animal safely.
    To think growing up dead animals were burried in the back yard or double bagged and put in the trash. I really hope you don’t have to ever do this again but at least hopefully this info saves you a trip to the vet.

  14. Peapodsquadmom March 31, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    ok, now see? you keep posting these brilliant posts and i can’t just keep tweeting them ’cause i’d surely look like a serious blog stalker in need of therapy. so could you post some crap that i won’t feel compelled to tell the world about?

  15. Foodycat April 1, 2009 at 2:34 pm #

    What an awful experience. Poor kitty. We’ve just had our cat microchipped and I am wondering if we made the right decision.

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