RADFORD — Desmond “Dez” McDaniel finally decided the only way he could stop mourning a cat that died two month ago was to get another one. He headed straight to the Radford Animal Shelter on 110 Pulaski St.
By the time he left, his shiny new black cat had received a shot to ward off feline diseases, a month of free pet insurance and a hypodermic microchip, all for just $25.
The microchip “is definite proof of ownership,” said Adele Katrovitz, who celebrated her fifth year of service as Radford’s Animal Control Officer on Dec. 21.
She’s been injecting microchips into animals since she taught animal health and welfare to “workers at animal collection points” in England, her home country. She worked in animal control in Hampton Roads before moving to the New River Valley.
“But I had not encountered one animal with a microchip,” since she arrived in this area until she began installing them, Katrovitz said. The animal shelter already had a scanner for detecting microchips when she arrived, but time after time, she checked stray dogs and cats, only to find that none of them had identifying microchips.
Now at Radford’s shelter, each adopting pet owner gets an animal already equipped with a microchip. With shelter worker Olivia Atwood holding the kitten, McDaniel’s new pet did not squirm any more when her microchip was installed than she did for her shot.
Katrovitz keeps a supply of sterile microchip syringes already loaded with a microchip the size of a kernel of long-grain rice. Each package has a barcode printed on a tag that attaches to the animal’s collar. The same barcode appears on a form the owner fills out to register the pet with a private company.
“The microchip is not any good unless you register it,” Katrovitz warned.
At a recent microchip drive at Radford Fire Station, Dr. Emily Lawrence of West End Animal Clinic installed 56 microchips in local animals at a cost of only $10 each. “Our cost,” Katrovitz said.
When she worked in Hampton Roads, Katrovitz said she heard of one pet owner who got her microchipped pet back—after it had been missing seven years.
“Every vet clinic and shelter has a scanner,” she explained.
The Radford Animal Shelter takes in all sorts of pets: birds, snakes, lizards, fish and, of course, cats and dogs.
“People are very, very bad about not claiming their cats,” Katrovitz said.
Of the 177 cats she has sheltered in 2015, only 11 were reclaimed by owners. “We really need to promote more responsible cat ownership,” she said.
When McDaniel showed up, he realized he had met Katrovitz in the past. McDaniel served as Radford’s animal control officer for approximately 40 years. He visited the shelter a couple years ago just to see how things had changed.
Referring to Booger, his deceased cat, McDaniel said, “I missed that cat something awful. She was on my mind all the time.”
Now McDaniel has a six-year-old black poodle named Inky and a brand new black cat. What will he name it? “I’ll have to consult with my wife about that,” he said.
McDaniel will have to get his new cat spayed by the end of January to comply with shelter requirements. And Katrovitz asked one more thing: to have his picture made with his new kitty so she can post it on the shelter’s Facebook page.
Katrovitz praised Radford residents for coming to her aid when flooding threatened the shelter last fall.
“I put the word out on Facebook,” she said, since she needed temporary homes for animals that were being held in the shelter. “In six hours we were empty.”
— Written by Pat Brown
To donate, volunteer or adopt, contact the Radford Animal Shelter by calling 731-3688 or by visiting its Facebook page.