Animal Advocates Warn About Possible Problems With Microchipping Your Pet

MicrochippingAbout 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.


23 Responses to “Animal Advocates Warn About Possible Problems With Microchipping Your Pet”

  1. Debra says:

    According to my vet, another potential problem with microchips is migration. If the chip is not placed properly in the muscle, it can move - he scanned a couple dogs (not chipped by him, of course), where the chip had migrated down the front leg of one and to the center of the chest of the other.

  2. Kevin says:

    I do support Microchipping, but it’s not a perfect solution.

    Additional info below.

    Microchipping, Malignancies At Implantation

  3. Mary Hufford says:

    Chips can and do migrate. And even if all microchip manufacturers were to standardize their chip frequencies today day, there are still thousands and thousands of pets that already have chips of varying frequencies.

    It seems to me that the global scanner makes the most sense.

  4. Claudia says:

    I’ve always liked, and still use, tattoos in the right ear. The best thing about them is that they’re visible to anyone finding the pet. You instantly know that it had a home at some point. Over time, it might fade a little, or be somewhat illegible, but you can usually make out some of the numbers and letters and guess at the rest. I’ve located several cat’s homes this way. It’s also pretty amazing what the intake staff at the humane society can read. I guess the only downside I’ve experienced is a cat bite from a little buddy that wasn’t happy about me trying to look in his ear. I got over it.

  5. 2CatMom says:

    One of the vets on did a multi-part blog on this topic. The first part was posted on June 25, 2007. Seems one of the biggest problems is the failure of US companies to agree on on standard. Kind of like the old BETAmax/VHS thing.

    Except for the little difference that the lives of animals depend on these chips. But what’s a few animal lives compared to profit? It would seem that the chip makers learned their ethics the same place the PFI did.

  6. Jenny Bark says:

    This is bull. Where is the AVMA. They could & should take care of this yesterday. The chips are put in by vets right? All my babies are chipped & we keep checking them each time they go to the vet to make shure they haven’t moved. We been chipping for many years, so far none has moved If they do , out they go. What does the AVMA do besides taking grants from the pfi, don’t protect pets & people when they are sick & dying from pet food, tell people they are not smart enough to home cook for their pets until way late in the pet food recall then charge $50.00 for a recipe, don’t call the FDA on drugs or food, don’t recall themselves, don’t keep all the vets informed until late about recalls, don’t check on the garbage they push on us. I don’t know what the H!!! they do but I have no respect for them. Does anybody know what good they do than please tell me.

  7. Gail B says:

    Who wrote this article????

    And why are they quoting the political lobby group “the Humane Society” whose agenda includes eliminating ownership of pets?

    And even if the chip isn’t read or migrated and the pets are adopted or euthanized - no microchip at all wouldn’t improve the outcomes, now would it?

  8. 2CatMom says:

    Vets aren’t the only ones who put in chips. Many times a shelter will be given free chips and a reader - only problem is the chips are specific to the reader. (Actually, it may be a vet working for the shelter but I couldn’t hold that vet responsible).

  9. Jenny Bark says:

    2Cat Mom you don’t see what I’m getting at. I can see the shelters getting them but I hope a vet puts them in. IF I understand right it is very important where they are placed & if that is so, than imo a vet should do it. The girls in my vet ’s office are very good & I TRUST them but only my vet puts in the chips. The AVMA has a lot of power over the vets. Imo all the AVMA has to do is to say if the chip companys doesn’t fix the problem we are only going to recommend only one kind of chip & why. Now unless I’m all wet behind the ears & I could be, that would fix the problem unless they are getting $ from them like the pfi.

  10. 2CatMom says:

    Jenny B - I’m still confused. Is your objection to proprietary chips or to someone other than the vet inserting them (or both issues)?

    And you wouldn’t want the AVMA to engage in anti-competative practices would you?(trust me, that’s how they’ll spin their unwillingness to push for universal chips and readers).

  11. Anonymous says:

    Is there an national DBase on owners and their pets whereas all shelters, breeders, and the likes could access?

  12. Traci says:

    You don’t need to be a vet to know how to do it, you just need proper training.

  13. Moony says:

    I’m pretty sure when I took three of my pets to a ‘Microchip Day’ thing at an elementary school, they WEREN’T put in by vets. At least there was no indication they were vets whatsoever. My other two pets were chipped before they left the shelter, but its hard to say for certain the vet did it there, either.

    I was living on a farm a few years ago where some of the rare breed American Bashkir Curly horses were to be shipped to Louisiana, and the new owner wanted them chipped. Despite being smaller horses, Curlies have very thick skin and an extra thick layer of fat under that (this allows them to endure much colder weather than other horse breeds), so shots have to be done with thicker and longer needles than usual for horses. Well, when the vet shot the microchip into the neck of one mare, it took him 10 minutes to read it already! He had some trouble with several of the others, too, but not as much as with the one mare.

    Something that was pointed out to me years ago, too, was that since microchips don’t show outward in any way other than an easily removable collar, they’re not a theft deterrent. Tattoos are - even if the theif cuts the animal’s ear off, its plainly apparent the dog belongs to someone else.

  14. Traci says:

    Non-government private shelters/rescues (can’t say what the government run ones can pay for) usually have to have people besides vets who are trained to draw blood, vaccinate and chip. How the heck otherwise are so many cats that go up for home adoption or barned-out going to get tested, vaccinated and chipped?

  15. Jenny Bark says:

    Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, had to get supper & go out for a bit. Traci you sound like your upset with me. Please don’t be. I have been on Itchmo right after it started even though I didn’t post. I feel like I know you & 2CatMom & like both of you. I hope we can all disagree with each other at times and still get along.
    Traci I didn’t say anything about drawing blood or getting vaccinated or anything else, just about chips. We think the world of the girls that work for our vet. On hoildays & when one of our babies pass they get a gift from our babies for taking such good care of them so does our vet.The newest girl as been there at least 8yrs.. They do draw blood or give a shot when doc is busy, x-rays, tests,etc, but most importantly they are with all the babies after surgery. They do not chip but I bet they could if they had too. Anything they didn’t learn in school I’m shure she taught them. They are the greatest & as I said before we think the world of them. We have had our vet for around 18yrs., she is a one on one. She(it’s hard not calling them by name) knows every dog & cat that comes in is very much hands on. She gives most of the shots because she explains the shots & side efects. She takes on no new clients unless some pet parents have passed on. If a client gets a new pet she will take them but I couldn’t even get my brother an appointment for his dog. He had to go on the waiting list and she is not going to expand because she likes it the way things are, and so do the pet parents and pets. She does think a vet should give the chips, i’m guessing because as been posited above some have moved, problems & etc.. As I said before ours are checked every time they go in, so far none have moved, had any problems at the site and are very easy read. What other vets do in there offices or shelters I can’t do anything about, I am only responsible for mine.
    Our babies go with us in the car & motor home & our dog catcher still gases in a box with his pick up so we chip. I have even tryed to help pay for a scanner if he would use it & they cost & he still said no. I hate him. I have been buying as a lot of other pet parents chips for years & they use to cost a lot more but they still cost enough today. What I’m very upset about & I think it is a sin is there is no universal scanner or reader. That is just not right. The AVMA imo can do something about it, they do have the power to change things. In 2007 no pet that is loved & is chipped or tatto should ever be put down or given to someone else. It is not right & imo it will never be right. Take our money do the job.
    I’m sorry the post took so long to write but i’ve been pulled away 4 times, busy night.

  16. Jenny Bark says:

    my husband just reminded me, we have gotten 2 dogs from 2 different shelters and neither was chipped or if they where my vet could not find it. We had them chipped.

  17. LisaCat says:

    Hi everyone.
    Here’s a link to the _DVM_ magazine with an article about Bayer’s new microchip identification system with universal scanner:

    (Sorry, I don’t know how to make the link hot.)

    This might help in identifying pets using a variety of microchips.

  18. Leigh-Ann says:

    Bayer has a universal scanner which is free to all rescues, shelters, and vet clinics — you just have to request it. They sent me one for my fairly small rescue, and it’s handy because I no longer have to take stray cats to the vet to find out if they’re chipped. I understand that the scanner being given out by the AKC CAR microchip program is also universal, but it’s not free. There are a few universal scanners for sale online and they all cost about $200.

    If you have a vet clinic, shelter, rescue, etc., and want to know more about the free Bayer scanner program, please drop me an email via my blog. I’ll send you the email address of the person to contact about it.

  19. 2CatMom says:

    I like you too, Jenny Bark! Sometimes I have a little trouble following where someone is going - no offense taken or intended.

    Unfortunately, I have no idea who put the chips in my cats. But I will have my vet check them from now on to make sure they haven’t moved.

    And I’m so glad to hear about the donations of universal chip readers. Even if it only helps a small % of animals get reunited with their owners, that would still be good.

    Jenny - what a horror that your local won’t accept a scanner as a gift! I guess it would mean he’d have to use a few more brain cells to scan for the chip, look the chip # up and make a phone call to the owner. Apparently that is way too complicated for him. So did your town hire the village idiot/someome’s lazy ass brother in law for the job?

    And I know you’ve already done this - but would a group of citizens complaining to the powers that be have any effect?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Jenny - what a horror that your local won’t accept a scanner as a gift! I guess it would mean he’d have to use a few more brain cells to scan for the chip, look the chip # up and make a phone call to the owner. Apparently that is way too complicated for him. So did your town hire the village idiot/someone lazy ass brother in law for the job?
    frankly, i suspect she just didn’t offer the chip reader to the right people. “dog catchers” are part of the law enforcement of any town, or county. Animals that are caught, whether chipped or not, collared or not, liscenced or not, are taken to the local sheter (aspca in some cases, humane society, animal control and welfare, etc) to be processed. this is just part of the law.

    There, the pet is read for a chip.

    no state in the union allows “dog catchers” to gas or put down any animal without a waiting period unless the animal is harmed (& suffering) or is a direct threat to someone’s life.

    unless she doesn’t live in teh states, which is possible. i know nothing about non american laws.

  21. Jenny Bark says:

    Our dog catcher is hired by consul. He works for about 6 bourghs & 1 small city. We have all whent after him including some animal activist groups. He has been wrote up in all our local papers. The law does say he is supposed to waite 3 days before killing them But he doesn’t. The law says he can use gas after 3 days. He gets paid $10.00 for a cat & I don’t know what for a dog. If you are not there & he has your baby when he comes in it is going into the box and getting gas. We have some very great no kill shelters & also reg shelters and are trying to be a no kill state but not everybody is not on board with that. Activists have been outside of his place to take pictures of when he brought animals in & date them but he had them removed. I will get a reader and pay for it. That would be the best $200.00 I could ever spend but I bet he still won’t use it. I wouldn’t be suprised if other people in my area read Itchmo & are doing the same thing.
    I’ll tell you about another thing that I thought was supposed to be against the law. In Pittsburgh, Pa.(don’t forget the h) that is not far from where I live but I never go there. The city wanted to get rid of the geese that came to the park. Some bird activists came in & wanted to help the birds & city but the city would have to help with $3 thousand. The city caught the geese (they couldn’t fly) gassed them & sent them to a plant. They said they treated the birds right & gave them water. Peta came in on that one & started to go after the city but then Vic happened & they whent after him. They said they where going to put it on there site & will be back for the next killing that the city said they where going to do in a couple of months. I don’t think I have ever been on there site so don’t know if it is on there or not. It is in the newspapers for the ones of you that are good enough on the computer to look it up. It was just a couple of days before Vic.

  22. Jenny Bark says:

    We do have laws & I think we need even stronger laws but everybody doesn’t follow the laws. Vic didn’t, the pfi didn’t and a lot of other people in power don’t. Ii’m 61 years old why would I ever lie or tell a story that is not truthful to any of you. Life is way to short for that & I like the person I have become to cheapen it for a lie. Maybe I should just stop posting.

  23. 2CatMom says:

    Jenny - I’m sure you are telling the truth. The local animal control is completely different from a shelter. And while some are good (our’s works with shelters and even adopts out animals directly) many have had their roles defined as “round ‘em up and get rid of them.”

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