Sometimes in researching a column, I come across good info but don't have room to include it.

Such was the case with my column on Bakersfield's new low-cost spay/neuter clinic, Critters Without Litters.

As I spoke with people about how huge it is for us to finally have such a clinic, I learned about a number of other good programs just now getting underway.

So here they are:

Be on the look out for free microchipping for your dog through a number of venues.

The City of Bakersfield has already begun a pilot program offering free microchipping at its monthly vacination/licensing events. They bought 500 chips and have already given out half at two events, said Asst. City Manager Steve Teglia. The microchipping is free to anyone who can show proof of a license or $10 to those without license information.

The county has also begun a microchip program at its shelter on Mount Vernon Avenue, said new Animal Control Director Jen Woodard. They are free to anyone regardless of license status.

That may not seem like a big deal, but it's a giant step by both agencies in a more proactive effort to keep animals out of the shelter in the first place.

"Our hope is when an animal control officer comes in contact with a chipped animal, they can scan them in the field, get the licensing information and return the animal to its owner so they never even come to the shelter," Teglia said.

And if they do come to the shelter, a microchip will get them home much faster, Woodard said.

Considering problems the shelter has had controling disease and the fact that more than 20,000 animals were euthanized last year, anything that can stem the tide of animal intake is a worthy goal.

Also to that end, both city and county are using ongoing neighborhood canvassing by animal control officers to educate people about resources they can use to help with their animal issues.

Such as helping find rescues or adoption groups if their dog just had an "oopsie" litter of pups and then where to go to get that dog spayed and how to do it for the lowest cost possible.

The county's officers will still be working on licensing compliance, Woodard said.

"But if they're going door-to-door speaking with people, we want to use those teams to help people solve problems," she said. She's working on booklets to hand out that will give people contact and how-to information.

Such proactive ideas are regular topics of conversation at the new Metropolitan Bakersfield Animal Control Committee meetings. The committe was formed following the city and county's animal agencies' near divorce earlier this year.

The city agreed to pay the county more money to shelter its animals but insisted on more input. This joint committee is one avenue for that input.

It is open to the public (see details in box) so feel free to sit in and get the low-down on the all the latest, greatest animal control ideas.

And don't be afraid to offer a few of your own.

Opinions expressed in this column are those of Lois Henry, not The Bakersfield Californian. Her column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Comment at http://www.bakersfield.com, call her at 395-7373 or e-mail lhenry@bakersfield.com