Microchips are one of the best ways to ensure that you are reunited with your pet if your pet becomes lost. The American Humane Association estimates over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year, and one in three pets will become lost at some point during their life. In a study conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) (Lord et al, JAVMA, July 15, 2009), only about 22 percent of all lost dogs that entered animal shelters were reunited with their families. However, the return-to-owner rate among dogs with microchips was over 52 percent (a 238 percent increase over the total). Of all lost cats at shelters, less than two percent were reunited with their families. The return-to-owner rate for microchipped cats was over 38 percent. Compared to the two percent general return-to-owner rate among cats, this is a dramatic 2000 percent increase!
Despite this high success rate, many pet guardians neglect to register their pets’ microchips in a database with their current contact information. The same study found that only 58 percent of the microchipped animals’ microchips had been registered in a database with their guardian’s contact information. To remind pet guardians to keep their current contact information registered and up-to-date, the AVMA and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) joined together to designate August 15th as “National Check the Chip Day.”
PugetPets encourages guardians of microchipped pets to take advantage of this reminder. Many databases allow you to register your pets’ microchips. However, the one that really matters for your pet and the one that animal shelters and veterinarians will search is the database maintained by the microchip’s manufacturer. AAHA’s Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool is linked to the registries of the majority of microchip manufacturers and allows a quick database search of any microchip made by these manufacturers. A number of public microchip registries have also been linked to the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool to make it easier to find a microchip’s registration.
A notable exception is the microchip manufacturer Avid, which does not participate in the AAHA’s Universal Lookup Tool. The majority of manufacturers and databases, however, do participate. The following is a list of many of the participating manufacturers:
If your pet is microchipped, there are three things you need to do to “check the chip”:
Make sure that you have registered the microchip with the manufacturer by visiting their website and creating an account.
Ask your veterinarian to scan your pet’s microchip at least once per year to make sure the microchip is still functioning and can be detected. Consider asking your vet to make this a part of your pet’s annual check-up.
Keep your registration information up to date in the manufacturer’s database.
If your pets do not have microchips, consider the advantages of getting them microchipped. You can check out the AVMA’s Microchipping of Animals FAQ for their answers to many questions and concerns, including health and privacy concerns, about microchipping.
Remember National Check the Chip Day every year! Taking a few simple steps will help ensure that you are reunited in the event a furry family member is lost.