Fayetteville’s pet microchip law goes into effect in January 2012

Photo: Joel Mills, CC 3.0
This radiograph shows a cat with an identifying microchip implant located above the spine.

Fayetteville pet owners will no longer have to pay a yearly $5 pet license fee. They will, however, be required to have their pets microchipped.

Council members voted Tuesday night to replace the current annual pet licensing fee with a requirement that all dogs and cats over the age of four months must have an electronic microchip implant.

Microchips, which are about the size of a large grain of rice, are placed under the skin of an animal and can be scanned to reveal details such as contact information of the animal’s owner and vaccination records.

Microchipping costs $20 at the Fayetteville Animal Shelter or can be performed elsewhere by a private veterinarian.

Animal Services Superintendent Justine Middleton said the idea of microchipping was brought about to save money both directly and indirectly.

“For one, we would no longer have to administer the license program which is a bit cumbersome,” said Middleton. “Also, any pet with up-to-date microchip information should be able to be returned home if not immediately, extremely shortly thereafter, therefore saving us the cost of having to kennel those animals and care for them for a 2-or 3-day average stay.”

Several people spoke in opposition to the new requirement saying that government should not mandate technologies like microchipping.

“I feel like my right as a pet owner to choose to have this done is being trampled on,” said Debbie Beckerdite, chair of the local group Northwest Arkansas Citizens for Better Government.

“If you just leave it as is and maybe educate the public that this is available, a conscientious pet owner would choose to have the microchipping done.”

Ward 3 Alderman Bobby Ferrell said he is empathetic to the people opposed to the new law. “I don’t like government mandates at all and I often oppose them,” said Ferrell.

However, in this case, he said he believed vaccination information carried on microchips would come in handy if a resident was bitten by a stray animal.

In researching microchips, Ward 4 Alderwoman Sarah Lewis said she found them to be highly regarded as a strategy for minimizing euthanasia in shelters and returning animals home.

“It’s something worth trying,” said Lewis.

The ordinance was unanimously approved and will go into effect the first week of January.

City staff documents

Download these documents