CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago animal control officers and police officers now can return some lost pets to their owners right away, rather than first taking them to the city pound, thanks to microchip scanners donated by two animal rescue groups.

City officials announced Thursday that Best Friends Animal Society has donated 10 microchip scanners to Chicago Animal Care and Control, and Animal Farm Foundation has donated 50 scanners to the Chicago Police Department.

Another animal advocacy group, Safe Humane, trained officers how to use the scanners.

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Animal control officers and police officers now can use those scanners to check stray animals for microchip IDs, and return them directly to their homes, instead of processing them at the city’s animal shelter.

“CACC is excited to launch this important initiative to keep more animals in homes and divert them from the city shelter, thanks to critical partners Best Friends Animal Society and Animal Farm Foundation,” acting CACC executive director Kelley Gandurski said in a statement. “We encourage all pet owners to microchip and tag their pets to ensure their pet can return home safely and quickly.”

In order to return lost pets directly to their owners when police or animal control officers find them on the loose, the owner must live within three miles of where the animal is recovered, the pet must be healthy, and the microchip must have an up-to-date address.

When officers return the pets to the home shown on the microchip, they will require the owner to show photo ID confirming they are the owner listed on the chip.

Animal Care and Control officials said the initiative will help reduce overcrowding at the city pound.

CACC officers have been using the scanners since July 18. Through Monday, they scanned 69 stray dogs and 75 stray cats in the field, but none had microchips. Eight other stray dogs and two other stray cats brought to the pound did have microchips, but were not scanned in the field, either because they were sick, injured, or it was unsafe to scan them at the time.

The city offers monthly free and low-cost microchipping, tagging, and vaccine clinics. The next clinic will be at 9 a.m. on Aug. 15 at the city animal shelter at 2741 S. Western Av.