KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — All dogs and cats arriving or now living with personnel on Okinawa under the status of forces agreement must receive microchip implants, according to an Air Force memo.

The mandatory chip implants are to help return lost pets to their owners and deter pet abandonment by servicemembers transferring to their next duty station, said Col. H. Brent Baker, 18th Mission Support Group commander.

The new rule applies to SOFA personnel in all services living either on or off base, said Army Staff Sgt. Rufus Frederick, a Kadena Veterinary Clinic spokesman.

The Kadena clinic will implant the Avid Chip under the pet’s skin for $18 at the pet’s annual examination, Frederick said.

Pets with the competing Home Again chip or any other competing chips will not need a second implant as long as the chip is compatible with a universal ISO reader, Frederick said. “We have an ISO-compatible reader and if we can read it, they’re good to go,” he said.

The Home Again chip, manufactured by Destron Fearing Corporation, also is known as the Life Chip in Japan. It also is called the Destron or Identichip in the United Kingdom and the Indexel in continental Europe.

Anyone with objections to having the microchip implanted must request an exception to the policy and have it approved by Baker’s office, according to the memo.

If Karing Kennels finds a pet with a microchip on-base, the owner will be notified and must pay a fee to recover the pet; however, Okinawan animal shelters do not have ISO readers, and would depend on collar tag information to return a pet. Most off-base veterinary clinics do have the chip readers.

If a pet is found abandoned after a SOFA-status person leaves Okinawa, officials will contact that person’s previous commander. They then will contact the person’s current commander, Frederick said, adding that abandoning a pet is punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Kadena’s Army-run veterinary clinic is the only on-base clinic on Okinawa. Recently, officials limited incoming servicemembers to two pets per household and current residents to three pets per household, in an attempt to lessen the burden on the heavily-booked clinic.

Meanwhile, new Japanese regulations require all dogs and cats entering Japan as of June 6 to have a chip implanted, or face a potential 180-day quarantine.

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