Is this your cat? She was found wandering outside, and is now in the Milton animal shelter.

The animal control officer knows someone loved her. With one scan she found an ID microchip implanted in the cats shoulder, the high-tech link that's supposed to reunite lost pets with their owners.

Hank Phillippi Ryan"So someone could be looking for this cat right now?"

Nancy Bersani, Milton Animal Control Officer "Oh, they absolutely could."

But when she checked the microchip company's database all it showed was was a disconnected phone number and an outdated address. This cat probably will never go home.

Nancy Bersani, Milton Animal Control Officer"It's very very frustrating."

All across the state, our investigation found other micro chipped cats and dogs who can not be returned to their families. Their microchips are in wrong place, or are broken, or have incorrect information, they're what animal control officers call dead end pets.

Hank Phillippi Ryan "Do you think animals have been put to sleep as a result of this?"

Michelle Hamel, Haverhill Animal Control Officer"Yes, absolutely."

In Milton, officials say 50 percent of lost animals have problem chips. In Haverhill, 80 percent!

The Animal control officer there says she's found animals with defective chips that can't be read. Some chips she almost missed when she scanned them because they've shifted from where they were originally implanted.

Michelle Hamel, Haverhill Animal Control Officer"It's a false sense of security."

Of course, when chips work, they're a lifeline for lost pets. Pepper's now back with his family because his microchip was in the right place and had up to date information.

Pepper's dog walker"I'm ecstatic."

But when the American Veterinary Medical Association checked hundreds of micro chipped animals – 40 percent of them were not registered in any database!

John Snyder, Humane Society of the US"I think that's unfortunate. I think animals are lost because of that."

How does that happen?

For years, Melinda thought her cat Samantha was protected–she paid a chip company for a lifetime registration. But when she checked–her contact info was never put in the ownership database.

Samantha's chip was worthless.

Melinda "I hate to think what could have happened to her."

And here's Rusty, a dog in a Merrimack Valley shelter, he was found on the street. He's chipped, but the info goes to the disconnected number of an out of business pet store. Rusty will never probably see his owners again–now he's going to a new family.

Hank Phillippi Ryan "Do you worry that someone will want to get the dog back?"

Michelle Hamel, Haverhill Animal Control Officer"It certainly runs through my mind, but shame on them for not looking for him, or not getting registered in the first place."

Experts say if you have a micro chipped pet, great. Chips have reunited thousand of families with their lost animals but they say, every year when your pet gets a checkup make sure the vet scans to confirm the chip works properly, and the info is up to date.(Copyright (c) 2009 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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