When the Christchurch earthquakes happened thousands of animals went missing.
The SPCA was left bursting at the seams with much-loved animals that were terrified and could no longer find their homes and families.
Some of those animals were microchipped, which meant SPCA staff were able to quickly reunite them with their families, many of whom were understandably emotional from the events but could at least feel at ease knowing their loved pet was safe.
That still left enormous numbers of pets with no microchips sitting at the shelter and with no way of finding their homes. That in itself is a disaster and one that we hope we never have to endure in the Bay of Plenty.
For that reason I cannot stress enough how important it is to microchip your pet as we never know what is going to be around the next corner in our lives.
The RNZSPCA has recognised Tauranga as being one of the four main cities to be at most risk during a major natural disaster, alongside Gisborne, Napier, and Wellington (excluding Christchurch, which has had significant help with microchipping already); and has acquired funding which is to be used in those four main cities so that we can help to get more people's pets microchipped by providing a limited amount of free microchipping.
From that we have received an amazing 700 microchips, which means 700 more animals that will have a greater chance of being reunited with their families in the event of a natural disaster.
If your pets have not yet been microchipped and you have an up-to-date Community Services Card, please contact the SPCA shelter on 578 0245 to book a time to bring your pet in.
We will need to see your card and photo identification, and we will also need proof of address because that is specifically to be used by our community.
We do ask owners for a small donation to go towards the cost of registering your details on the Companion Animal Register, which is just as important as the microchip itself. Please contact us for more information. Don't leave it until it is too late.
Margaret Rawiri is the operations manager of the Tauranga SPCA.