Although much attention has been given to the issues of microchip scanners and the various microchip frequencies available in the United States, little has been done to characterize the microchip registration process as it relates to reuniting lost pets with their owners.1–3 The successful use of a microchip in reuniting a pet with its owner depends on a wide distribution of functional scanners that can read and detect the various frequencies used in a community, the willingness and ability of veterinarians and personnel at animal shelters to scan lost animals to detect a microchip, and a robust registration process whereby the owner information associated with a pet's microchip is registered with a microchip registry in which accurate up-to-date information is maintained by the owner as well as via active database management by the microchip registry.
The United States is the only country in which the implantation of a microchip is often treated as a separate process from registration with a microchip registry. In other countries, such as Canada and those throughout Europe, these services are always bundled together. Critics of the current microchip registry system in the United States cite several issues as complicating the registration process, including the fact that many animal shelters, veterinarians, breeders, and pet stores leave the registration process up to the owner, which results in low compliance; owners fail to maintain up-to-date information in the microchip registry; manual registration forms often lead to inaccurate information being entered into the microchip registry; and multiple registries exist in the United States.3 On July 19, 2008, the AVMA House of Delegates approved a resolution that calls for the AVMA to actively promote the implementation of linking companion animal microchip databases.4 Establishing such linkages should dramatically simplify the ability to return a lost companion animal to its owner.
Anecdotally, the animal shelter community reports major problems in reuniting microchipped pets with their owners because of a lack of registration, registration with another group (such as a veterinarian, animal shelter, rescue group, or breeder), and inaccurate owner information (such as disconnected or incorrect telephone numbers). The objectives of the study reported here were to characterize the animals with microchips entering animal shelters, describe the methods animal shelters used to find owners of animals, and identify factors associated with the ability of animal shelters to find the owner of a pet.
Return to owner
Society for Animal Welfare Administrators
Avid, Norco, Calif.
Digital Angel Inc; distributed by Intervet/Schering-Plough, Kenilworth, NJ.
Allflex USA Inc; distributed by PetHealth Inc, Rolling Meadows, Ill.
Datamars SA, Switzerland; distributed by Bayer Animal Health, Shawnee Mission, Kan.
PETtrac Database, Avid, Norco, Calif.
HomeAgain Pet Recovery System, Intervet/Schering-Plough, Kenilworth, NJ.
PetPoint Shelter Data Management System, PetHealth Inc, Rolling Meadows, Ill.
Stata, version 10.0, StataCorp, College Station, Tex.
Lord LK, Pennell ML, Ingwersen W, et al. In vitro sensitivity of commercial scanners to microchips of various frequencies. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2008;233:1723–1728.
Lord LK, Pennell ML, Ingwersen W, et al. Sensitivity of commercial scanners to microchips of various frequencies implanted in dogs and cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2008;233:1729–1735.
AVMA. Microchipping of animals. AVMA Web site. Available at: www.avma.org/issues/microchipping/microchipping_bgnd.asp. Accessed Sep 12, 2008.
Lord LK, Wittum TE, Ferketich AK, et al. Search and identification methods that owners use to find a lost dog. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;230:211–216.