Animal Rescue Organizations Warn of Microchip Problems

The recent hurricane disasters have spotlighted a problem few people had encountered before: not all microchip scanners can read all microchips. Some chips are encrypted so that only the same manufacturer's scanner can read them. When disaster relocates pets across state boundaries rescuers can encounter problems reading their microchips , since the choice of chip and scanner will vary throughout the country.

Every year, microchips reunite thousands of pets with their owners, simply by shelter workers scanning the microchip of lost pets to obtain their owner’s contact information. The microchip has also been widely used in the UK, where it has for the first time enabled people to travel abroad with their pets because the rabies vaccination records can be stored in the microchip.

Some standard microchips are encrypted, and their manufacturer "has blocked efforts to enable them to be read by all scanners", says the Humans Society of the United States. They have joined with various rescue organizations, including the ASPCA and American Humane, to create the Coalition for Reuniting Pets and Families, and together are asking that microchip and scanner manufacturers and marketers permit the use of a scanner that can read all microchips.

They also want such a scanner to be made readily available to shelters, animal control officers, and veterinarians throughout the country. The coalition has reached out to all of the current distributors and manufacturers of microchips sold in the United States, urging them to resolve these issues. They have made clear that they do not endorse a particular frequency, technology, or company, but strongly support use of scanners that can read all frequency microchips.

Only microchips that use the universal International Standards Organization (ISO) system of open microchip technology are compatible with all scanners. Pets who have an unencrypted 125 kHz microchip can be read by an ISO scanner. Those pets already implanted with an encrypted 125 kHz microchip will be detected by ISO scanners, but in some cases, these scanners will not be able to read the encrypted chip. Currently AVID chip does not allow its encrypted chips to be read by all scanners.

This news story is independently sourced and does not specifically endorse products or services offered by any company referenced in this article, or benefit from any association with any companies referenced.