About eight to ten million cats and dogs stray away from their homes each year. Many of these pets remain lost and are never found.
Because of these alarming statistics, pet owners are urged to properly identify their pets. And microchipping has become one of the more popular and important ways for pets to be identified and to ensure that your pet will be returned to you if he gets lost.
But the Humane Society and other animal advocate groups warn that microchipping is not always foolproof. They say that the chips cannot always be read.
When a stray pet comes to a shelter or a vet’s office, employees can scan the animal with a wand. If the pet is chipped, a code of letters and numbers show up that is tied to the owner’s contact information. The pet can then be returned to the owner.
The American Veterinary Medical Association says that is how it is supposed to work, but it always may not work that way. They say there are shortcomings to the microchipping process.
There are various brands of chips and they work on a variety of frequencies from 125 to 134.2 kilohertz. Each company makes its own scanners, and they can’t always read other scanners.
“If an animal is scanned with an inappropriate reader that doesn’t read the frequency of the chip that’s implanted in that animal, it may either indicate that there’s a microchip present but it can’t read the number or it may not indicate that there’s a microchip present at all,” Dr. Rosemary LoGiudice, of the American Veterinary Medical Association, said.
A scanner was able to read a 125 kilohertz chip successfully. But when the same scanner was used on a 134.2 chip, it showed a chip was present, but a code and the owner’s information did not appear.
The Humane Society of the United States said there have been several instances where the chip was not found. The pet was then adopted to a new home or has even been euthanized.
There is technology that can prevent these unfortunate incidences. There is a global scanner that can read every frequency.
One company, Avid, which manufactures a 125 chip, said the answer is to standardize the chip frequency instead of requiring a global scanner.
Congress has also tried to resolve the microchip problem. They are asking the USDA to come up with a regulation to make chips readable under all circumstances. But even though if the USDA does implement a regulation, the agency can only regulate places like breeders and animal research facilities. They do not have any jurisdiction over family pets.