The biggest tip you hear, and it bears repeating now, registration AND updates are key to getting pets home. The microchip itself only has the id number. The vet clinic, shelter, or animal control use a universal scanner to read the number then key it into a search website like this. So whether you just got your pet chipped or they have been chipped for years check the registry and make sure the information is accurate.
When I had a wreck in 2007 animal control was called to pick up my Mollie. I begged the volunteer firefighter on scene to not take Mollie to the county shelter and she agreed to take her to her home till my mom could pick her up. I still tear up when I think of the kindness of a stranger that day. After we all healed the first thing we did was go to our vet and find out about permanent id so if anything ever happened again they would be protected.
The office visit was quick and simple. My Mollie went first and didn't flinch. My Bobo felt it, but I must preface that with even the "baby needle" he jumps and screams so its really about your dogs personality. Its no more painful than the poke of a vaccine. We were told at the time that the clinic staff would mail their registrations in. Well it ended up taking months to get them registered. I am not certain whether it was on the end of the clinic or the end of HomeAgain but once registered it was super easy to update photos, contact info and order id cards. One thing I like about Homeagain is now that I have my account set up I can easily add dogs from the menu when logged in. I don't have to wait for the clinic to mail it in and HomeAgain to process. I have had many a foster and recently permanant fur-babies added quickly this way. Once registered and you pay the first year fee your pet has lifetime coverage. Meaning your information will always be connected to that chip and you will be contact (as long as your info is updated) if your pet becomes lost. There is no fee for updating your information in the database. You can opt for a yearly membership for $17.99 per year that has perks such as access to hotlines, posters, and id cards but is not mandatory.
Lucy and Gracie were chipped during their spays and I registered them online as usual. My vet never switched microchip suppliers during the time we were under their care. However when little Poppy came along we were in Texas and our new clinic didn't offer HomeAgain microchips. Now I am not a person for change. I kind of panicked trying to decide on a new microchip company with there being so many options.
Some clinics offered micrchipping for anywhere from $35 to $50 plus the office visit, or had smaller unknown companies microchips. The last place I checked was our WF Animal Services. They offered 24PetWatch Microchips and they were only $15 (no office fee or appointment required). Since the Animal Services is the city shelter and the one she would end up in if she *knock on wood* got lost I thought it best to go with their chip.
Upon arrival they got me pulled up in the system, asked if we were doing a licence with microchip, asked the tech to come up to administer. Just a few minutes later Poppy was returned to me and we paid. I didn't know this till time of check out but WFAS gives a $5 discount on Microchips if purchased same day as a license.
Once home I tried to register online, and could not. So I called the number on Poppy's tag and got helped quickly by a representative. My phone number got put in incorrectly. She updated and registered Poppy with the complimentary service. Which will give me an email alert if my pet is found and the finders information will be in the online portal. With complimentary service the pet is always registered with the company and you can change phone or email any time you need. The only thing not able to be updated would be address under the complimentary service.
24PetWatch also gives you the option of upgrading if you want perks like live rep support if pet is lost, unlimited changes to address, and so forth. Their upgrading options are $22.99 per year or $84.99 for a lifetime. If you go with lifetime be sure to check for google coupons.
In my dealings (never had a lost pet, knock on wood) with registering, updating and customer service both companies have been fabulous. Both are well known and participate in the The AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup so all the finder has to do is put in the number and the tool tells them what company the chip is registered with.
I will update this post if I ever have more dealings with the companies or *KNOCK ON WOOD* ever loose a pet. But lets pray that never happens and my girls stay by my side furever!