I once worked at a vet's office and currently have 2 dogs that are microchipped. The price has come down significantly over the last 10 or so years for microchipping. It is a very valuable product because if your dog ever does get lost, it can be returned to you (and more facilities are getting "universal" scanners to read different kinds of chips).
The alert will happen once you register your pet. You can opt to get alerts when you sign up (and vets offices DO get them -- I see them posted all the time, and I get them in my email as well. As for the medical coverage, I believe that is at an additional cost -- you can pay $14.99 per month for a "premier membership" (this is basically because now that the price of the chip has gone down, the company needs to find new ways to get their revenue).
In 1997 my vet charged $150 to implant a HomeAgain chip. Three years ago, my local humane society charged $45 for a chip. This is a good price for something that is invaludable (even if you never need to use it).
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Review 2 for Home Again - Pet Recovery
Microchips & Alerts?
By:Houston Vettech 25
Date:April 23, 2008
I have worked in veterinary clinics for 10 years. I can absolutely say that microchips are amazing, invaluable pieces of the pet's ID. They work great, and can't ever get lost like collars. BUT, I would let naive customers know some product promises are way too good to be true. The microchip itsself is fabulous- from this company or one of the two others- every pet owner should make sure their baby is implanted- but, ALERT to veterinary clinics?? 3000 medical coverage if your pet gets hurt??? These are news to me, and I have worked in many clinics. We have never gotten, nor heard of an "alert" that goes out if your pet is lost, or this "3000 medical coverage". Just a word of advise to research a product before the amazing add-ons get you.