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Call Kurtis: Pet Microchip Mix-up Confuses Chihuahua For Rottweiler

If you've got a pet, you know how microchips are supposed to help get your pet back to you if lost.  But a Modesto man called Kurtis Ming after he found a stray Chihuahua caught up in a microchip mix-up.  He's taken care of the dog for about a year now and still isn't any closer to finding the real owner because the microchip inside the Chihuahua leads to a totally different dog.

The lost and found world of pets thinks Kenneth Morris' five pound Chihuahua is actually a Rottweiler named "Gretchen."  That's kind of a big difference.

"I thought it was a joke, I really did. I thought someone had said 'We call it a Rottweiler, but it's really a Chihuahua,'" said Morris.

He took the little dog in about a year ago after finding her dodging traffic outside his home.

"Tiny" as she's now called was taken to the vet, scanned for a microchip, which was found but it traced back to Gretchen, who is dead.  So, just who is that Chihuahua?

"We've placed ads in the newspaper, Craigslist, American Pet Registry," said Morris.

We've asked a number of animal welfare organizations and veterinarians and learned mix-ups like this do pop up from time to time, but they are rare.  So we wanted to see how microchips are implanted and where a mistake could possibly be made.

"It's definitely a careful process. One that I've been doing for over a decade," said Lizz Westphal, Rescue Coordinator for the Sacramento SPCA.

CBS13 watched as Westphal microchipped a litter of six-week old kittens.

The actual chips, which are barely bigger than a grain of rice, come pre-loaded in needles.

"So the first thing that I'm going to do is make sure that my microchip is functioning and my scanner is functioning as well," said Westphal.

She can tell right then if the chip number showing up on the scanner matches the id stickers that come with the chip.

Next, she scans the kitten to make sure he hasn't already been chipped. Then she inserts the chip. She scans for the newly planted chip inside the kitten.  She then puts an ID sticker on the little orange guy's adoption paperwork, and finally, enters his new microchip ID number into the computer, double and triple-checking her typing.

"And then I look at it one more time to make sure that's correct.  Correct," said Westphal.

A careful process the SPCA does with 150 animals a week.

So how can you be sure your pet's microchip matches up to your records? Take them to the vet.

"On their annual visit to their veterinarian, they can scan them right there at the veterinarian hospital and make sure the number matches up to their system," said Westphal.

But we're still no closer to finding Tiny's true identity. So we headed to the vet linked to Gretchen, the Rottweiler, Dr. Davinder Sandhu at American Pet Hospital in Modesto.

"The mix-up could be here at my hospital, or it could be at, when they were packaging these with the chips.  Or the third is if there are two chips with the same number," said Dr. Sandhu.

He says they've gone through their records from the time-frame Gretchen was chipped and even called all of the owners.

"Everybody was there, in their home. So we still don't know how this could have happened," said Dr. Sandhu.

Tiny sure can't tell us.  For now, Kenneth Morris is content keeping his little Rottweiler imposter.

"I think that my granddaughter has grown attached to her," said Morris.

Animal advocates tell us the biggest problem they see with microchips is not registering the chips at all, or moving and not updating your contact information.

On top of all that, they say having a collar with tags is the easiest way to bring home a lost pet.

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