Every two seconds, a four-legged family companion is lost, and many pets never return home because of lack of identification.

This is why nonprofit C.A.R.E.4Paws and Santa Barbara County Animal Services have teamed up for a month-long $5 microchip campaign in October. A microchip is a permanent form of identification that can reduce a pet’s shelter stay dramatically or prevent animals from ending up homeless altogether.

Microchips, which are the size of a rice grain, are implanted under a pet’s skin in the upper back area. When scanned at a shelter or veterinary clinic, the chip reveals the pet owner’s contact information so a lost dog or cat can find its way home.

In October, C.A.R.E.4Paws’ mobile veterinary clinic will provide $5 microchips at all of its regular Tuesday-through-Friday clinics, plus at four Sunday events countywide, the first one taking place Oct. 4 at Lompoc’s Ryon Park; visit care4paws.org/clinics.

“Microchips are the ticket home for our furry family members when lost,” said Esteban Rodriguez, Santa Barbara County Animal Services’ interim director.

“This latest collaboration between Santa Barbara County Animal Services and C.A.R.E.4Paws is critical as it provides microchips to our community pet owners for a very small fee,” hes said “We encourage all pet owners to microchip and keep their contact information current so that pets can find their way home safely.”

Microchipping, as well as low-cost vaccines, flea treatment, dewormer, and nail trimming, are provided from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on a walk-in basis during all of C.A.R.E.4Paws’ mobile clinic events. C.A.R.E.4Paws also offers free spay and neuter surgeries and assistance with low-cost veterinary care by prior appointment.

During all Sunday clinics in October, Santa Barbara County Animal Services’ Project PetSafe will be present to sell dog licenses, another important form of ID for a pet, along with pet tags.

While preventing pet homelessness is the main goal of C.A.R.E.4Paws, every year since 2009, the nonprofit has hosted its Wags n’ Whiskers Festival to celebrate animals and promote pets for adoption from shelters and rescues on the Central Coast, including Santa Barbara County Animal Services’ three shelters.

Due to COVID-19, this year’s festival is a virtual, weeklong event, Oct. 5-11. C.A.R.E.4Paws will promote dozens of adoptable pets through care4paws.org/adopt, Facebook.com/care4paws and Instagram.com/care4pawssb.

As part of the festival’s Best in Show, pet owners can also post photos and videos of their pets in costumes or while showing off a special talent. C.A.R.E.4Paws will present Best in Show participants on its social media pages on Oct. 10.

Throughout the week, the organization will highlight its festival sponsors, who not only support animal adoption, but the work C.A.R.E.4Paws does to keep pets healthy and in their homes.

For more information about October’s microchip campaign, visit care4paws.org/clinics. To learn more about Wags n’ Whiskers, visit care4paws.org/adopt.