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Free pet microchipping event draws a crowd

About the size of a parched grain of wild rice, a microchip inserted under a pet's skin can make all the difference should that dog or cat decide it wants to roam. A simple scanner can read the microchip, which can be linked to the pet owner's contact information and even address.

Cloquet patrol commander Dave O'Connor said he heard of a scenario in which a dog ran away, but was returned home within a half-hour, thanks to a scanned microchip. "You can get them back home pretty quickly," he said.

After a one-year hiatus, the free community microchip clinic returned to Cloquet's Veterans Park Saturday, with the new Carlton County Animal Rescue organizing the event for the first time. Now there will be even more pets with their own internal luggage tag.

Pets and their people were lined up early Saturday, with close to 20 people in line a half-hour before opening time at 9 a.m. By 11:30 a.m., over 100 dogs and cats had come through and the event wasn't even half over.

After scanning each pet to make sure they weren't already microchipped, a volunteer would quickly inject the tiny chip. Then the pet owner would make their way over to another volunteer table, where volunteers Barb Stiles and Meredith Kujala entered their personal information into the computer.

Kujala, Carlton County Animal Rescue surrender coordinator, has helped with past clinics and said she was pleasantly surprised at the turnout Saturday.

"It's a great day," she said. "Especially for the first Carlton County Animal Rescue clinic. We're really grateful for the support. It helps that Carlton County and the city of Cloquet pay for the costs.

Sheriff Kelly Lake was there, along with O'Connor. Both law enforcement agencies have scanners that read microchips. They work with CCAR and Missing Pets of the Northland, a Facebook group with nearly 20,000 followers all over the Northland, to return pets to their owners.

"Tags and collars can fall off, and sometimes the vet's office is closed even if an animal does have tags," Lake said, explaining that all the information is there with a microchip and a scanner. If it's not, CCAR or Missing Pets can often help.

When asked about the need for an animal shelter, Lake was supportive. "I think there's a place for both of them," she said. "This needs to be done anyway, and some people can't afford it."

"What a well-organized event this was," said Joy Gerlovich, who brought her golden retriever, Maya, for a microchip and even got Maya's toenails trimmed while she was there.

Lake agreed.

"This is a great thing," the sheriff said. "We're very thankful for CCAR and their volunteers for putting this on."

Partners involved in Saturday's event included the city of Cloquet and its police department, Carlton County Sheriff's Office, Cloquet Community Ed and Recreation, Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College, Frandsen Bank & Trust, Northwoods Credit Union, and Upper Lakes Foods.

Carlton County Animal Rescue is a nonprofit group formed to find homes for stray and surrendered in Carlton County. For more information, visit http://www.ccarrescue.com.

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