Driving Up the Convenience: Pima Animal Care Center Offers Drive-Thru Style Microchipping

July 2nd, 2019

The scene could have been a busy road at rush hour or lunchtime at a popular fast-food chain; cars were bumper to bumper. But here, people weren’t frustrated. They were patiently waiting to get their pet(s) microchipped by hard-working team members of Pima Animal Care Center (PACC).

In just two weeks, over 800 dogs and cats were microchipped through the drive-thru clinic at Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson, Arizona. The shelter anticipates that over 1,000 animals will be chipped in total during the two week pop-up event ending July 3.

How did this happen?

“I was sitting in a fast food drive-thru, picking up lunch, and thought to myself, ‘this is a pretty easy process, why can't we do this for microchipping?’” Michele Figueroa, Director of Operations at PACC shared. So she decided to take the leap and try it. PACC assembled a team, made a plan to set up in an unused parking area, and sent out a news release.

The results?

Pets and owners loved it! For pets, especially cats, the drive-thru style clinic seemed to be less stressful than the traditional stand-in-line, walk-up clinics many shelters provide. The people preferred it too! PACC received dozens of thank you emails and saw tons of smiles, despite 100-degree temps and waits up to 30 minutes due to the high volume of visitors.

“Microchip and vaccine clinics have never served cats well, because most cats don’t go places. I was getting into people’s cars, several didn’t have carriers, or they were broken. Everyone was thanking me for not making their cats get out of the car. Cats don’t typically travel well,” said Monica Frenden, Director of Feline Lifesaving at American Pets Alive! (who was at PACC on a site visit), of her participation in the clinic. “This is a win-win for cats and their people."

Microchips are small identification tags that are administered like a vaccine and remain under an animal’s skin for life. The chips are scannable, linked to databases with owner name and contact information, and drastically increase the likelihood of animals being reunited with their people. According to the American Kennel Club, 33 percent of all pets go missing in their lives and scanning for microchips on intake is a common practice among shelters.

Many animals get scared during July 4th fireworks and can go missing. Shelters see some of the year’s highest intake around this holiday, so help protect your pet by microchipping them to ensure they can be safely returned to you!

Follow these six easy steps and use the PACC Drive-Thru Microchip Clinic Toolkit to start a drive-thru clinic in your community!

  1. Pick dates and tell your community! PACC posted about the event on Facebook and distributed a simple, new release that was picked up by almost all the Tucson media stations.
  2. Use stations to systemize the process. PACC’s PARKING LOT PLAN (in the Drive-Thru Toolkit) lists the responsibilities and supplies needed for each station. Be sure to include stocking for the next day!
    1. Entrance-- Here staff greet cars, explain the process, and hand-out registration paperwork and clipboards.
    2. Check-in-- Staff review the form and microchip brochures with pet owners.
    3. Holder-- Staff determines whether to hold the pet in the car or take the pet out of the car.
    4. Chip insertion-- the animal is scanned and the chip is inserted.
    5. Data entry-- information gathered from the forms are entered into shelter software.
  3. Include all staff. Assign roles to departments based on the size of your teams. Use administrative staff for the administrative tasks. Have one staff member scheduled to set everything up early and staff to break everything down. Use PACC’s SCHEDULE (in the Drive-Thru Toolkit) as a reference.
  4. Track chip info. Use a TRACKING SHEET (in the Drive-Thru Toolkit) like the one PACC made, in addition to the registration forms, to ensure every animal is accounted for.
  5. Stay hydrated and cool. Set up pop-up tents or find a fully shaded area, like a carport for all stations. Keep everyone hydrated and provide staff with access to water, at all times.
  6. Expect a line of cars and wait times. The biggest rush was in the first 30 minutes. Expect to have cars in line 15-30 minutes before you start.

By planning an innovative event like a drive-thru clinic you can increase the return to owner rate in your community. This is because most shelters first scan for a microchip when an animal is brought in as a stray. In putting the emphasis on customer service for pets and people, you can microchip more pets than ever which will eventually lead to getting more animals home!

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