Microchipping Your Pet: Do It But Have a Backup Plan

By isak, June 5, 2009

Download a copy of this pdf by clicking on the photoThis FREE poster reads:

Back in the olden days (OK, before the 1980s!) shelters that took in lost pets wished for a system of permanent identification. A pet’s collars and tags could fall off or be removed—but what if all the lost animals arriving at a shelter had something more lasting, an I.D. that could help the shelter staff find the owner? That would make for a lot of happy endings!

The development of the implantable microchip seemed to provide a solution: A chip the size of a grain of rice can be placed under an animal’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. The chip contains information about the animal, so when a lost cat turns up at a shelter, staff use an electronic scanner to retrieve the information and use it to locate the animal’s owner. It was a leap forward that has led to happy reunions for thousands of lost pets!

But microchipping has been complicated by the realities of business. There were competing manufacturers. Some chips operated at a different frequency. Some were encrypted.

Many of these issues have been resolved and there is a strong movement toward a universal standard. But there is still the possibility that a lost, chipped animal could be scanned with a device that will not recognize his chip. And even if the chip is read correctly, it’s only as good as the information on it : Pet owners must ensure their contact information is updated with various microchip registries; there is still no single database for microchip information. If you move and fail to update your contact information, your pet could be returned to your old house rather than finding you at your new one!

What does this all mean? It’s simple: Microchip your pet with the chip recommended by your local shelter or veterinarian. Make sure to update your database information if you move. But don’t rely on the microchip as your only method of identification! While your local animal control agency may have a scanner, your next-door neighbor doesn’t — and when your cat or dog gets loose, the people in your area have the best and earliest chance of finding her. Should your beloved pet get lost, a collar and tag are still the most reliable way to make sure she gets home again.

You can download this poster for FREE to use with your organization.


MouthPieces is a new department of the Humane Society of the United States designed to help you communicate your messages to the public. We’ll be running pieces that you can use; just add your organization’s contact information and hang them in your lobby or hand them out at the front desk. And you don’t need to tear out the page: Just go to animalsheltering.org/mouthpieces to download and print a clean .pdf copy.


  1. OSO says:

    Seriously? ANOTHER lost/found company jumping on the revenue bandwagon?

    If you ask me, someone needs to create a service/product that aggregates companies like yours instead of further confusing pet owners and those who find lost pets, to spontaneously decide that YOUR solution is best.

    Really, when seeing how many lost, loved pets are euthanized at shelters or rehomed when the owner cannot be found, what makes this solution so novel?

    We need aggregation which will make rehoming simplified for pet owners, the public, and shelters.

    When that solution comes along, then you have something to comment about in the meantime, no phishing!!!!

    • isak says:

      Did you read the post about Pawtags? This sounds like exactly what you are asking for. They go the extra mile by manning their phones 24/7 and will work with the finder of a pet to get the lost pet home, even if the finder cannot hold the pet. They also offer many more options. I think they *get it*.

      Pawtags sounds like they have bridged the gaps between the other options, whether they are microchip incompatibilities or outdated rabies tags. Check them out.

  2. Microchips are great but good only “after” the pets already been rescued and the facility hopefully ahs the proper scanner to ready your brand of tag!
    Not only are 90% 0f non-id lost animals not found—over 75% of all domestic animals captured nationwide by Animal Control facilities are euthanized! There’s a great new pet rescue tag service called “Pawtags Rescue”- where each tag has its own id number and Live trained 24/7 Operator rescue services for $10!
    Their service allows you to develop a profile with up to ten contact numbers, listing rabies id, microchip info, city licensing, vet and medical info along with the pet’s profile. When someone finds your pet the Operators access this confidential info and use it with Google Maps, 3-way conferencing, etc. to get your pet home or to a safe place until picked up. The service also auto-creates a PAWS Alert poster to print or PDF and more importantly gives an owner an Animal Control Facilities zip code search that provides the only locations in 50 square miles that intake lost pets! This is so important since in some cities animals only have 3 days to euthanizaton!

    The tags are guaranteed for life, weatherproof, cool looking and for $10 you get tag and one year free service. You can upgrade to a lifetime for 19.99–so overall with a pets life average of 14 years that’s less than a $1.50 a year.

    It kind of reminds me of the Verizon support team commercials–you know if anyone finds your lost animal a live trained rescue person will make sure it gets home or to a safe place. Great deal–it’s at www.pawtags.com.

    • isak says:

      Good luck with your product. It does seem to bridge some of the gaps in the current microchip technology in several ways. From the get-go, the average Joe who finds the pet has access to the pet’s info — no trip to the vet or the shelter to see IF they animal is microchipped. I think this is huge!

What do you think?

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