Vet Science Program offers microchip service to help pet owners with new city ordinance compliance

Two Vet Science students with dog


New Houston City ordinances now require pets to have microchips, and the students in Veterinary Science program at the Alief Center for Advanced Careers can help. For only $20, microchipping services are available by appointment at CAC for dogs and cats at least four months old.

Microchipping is one of the services offered to community pet owners at the CAC since it opened five years ago, explains Phyllis Sams, a Licensed Veterinary Technician who teaches science and advised the FFA at the center. The recent city ordinance, which went into effect Feb. 1, 2023, is making the service more important for area residents.

“Most people think that microchipping is a tracker for your pet,” she said. “It is to an extent, but not in the way most people think of it.” The tiny chips implanted under the pet’s skin include numbers registered in a national database; when lost animals are found, they are scanned for the chips, and the database provides the owner’s contact information so that the pets can be returned.

“Here in the Veterinary Science program, we go ahead and register the pets for the clients before they leave here. This prevents those incidents where the owner gets home and forgets to register the microchip number,” Sams added. “We remind our customers always make sure to keep their phone numbers and address up to date in the system, so that it makes reuniting them and their pet a much easier process.”

Community members who use the services of the Veterinary Science program at the CAC benefit from lower costs and shorter wait times; because all services require preregistration, pet owners will not face long lines, as they do at one-day microchipping events held around the city.

Students benefit from working with a variety of animals and their owners in providing a variety of pet-care services. Sams said she and her teaching partner perform most of the microchip implantations, while students hold and comfort the pets; but advanced Practicum students who wish to learn the procedure themselves can practice on a mannequin until their teachers feel they are ready. “We do not require our students to perform microchipping, it is at their own discretion if this is something they feel comfortable doing and want to learn.”

Students become proficient in other services offered at the CAC, such as bathing, gland expression, ear cleaning, nail trimming and filing, combing and de-shedding, basic haircuts and hygiene clipping, teeth brushing, and doggy daycare. Services are available individually or in packages.

The Veterinary Sciences services are provided Monday through Friday during the school year, with drop-off from 6:45 to 9 AM and pickup from 2 to 2:45 PM.

“Although we are not a professional grooming service or veterinary clinic, we run our classroom as if it were one,” Sams said. “We appreciate the clientele that is willing to give our students daily opportunities with their pets.”

For the students, providing care allows them to practice professional interactions with pet owners, like setting up appointments and making reminder calls; they also get to see and perform services they would not be able to learn in a traditional classroom.

“...they get that hands-on education where we get to take what we are learning and apply it to a real-world situation,” Sams said. “It is all about client education, but it starts with teaching our students how to educate our clients.”