Animal Advocates Warn About Potential Pet Microchip Problems
Aug. 24, 2007 (KABC-TV) (KABC) -- An estimated eight to ten million pets stray from their homes each year, most lost and often never found.
That's why microchips have become so popular as a way to reunite pets with their owners, but microchips are not foolproof.
The Humane Society and other leading animal advocates are issuing a warning, while the high-tech lost and found systems are important, the chips can't always be read and critical changes need to be made to make sure your pet can be identified.
Tiny glass computer chips are embedded in all of Eleanor Blackford's dogs, including little Elsie.
"You have microchips thinking that that's the way that your animals are going to get back to you in the event that they're lost," Blackford said.
When a pet shows up at a shelter or vet's office, they scan the animal with a wand. If it's chipped, a code of letters and numbers pops up that's tied to the owner's contact information.
"And the pet can then be reunited with its owner," Dr. Rosemary LoGiudice, of the American Veterinary Medical Association, said.
The American Veterinary Medical Association says that how it's supposed to happen but that's not always the case.
"There are some shortcomings to the microchipping system at this time," Dr. LoGiudice said.
So why are there shortcomings? There are many brands of chips and they work on a variety of frequencies from 125 to 134.2 kilohertz. Each company also makes its own scanners and they can't always read the competition.
"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. LoGiudice said.
During a demonstration by the American Veterinary Medical Association, a scanner read a 125 kilohertz chip with no problem. But when the same scanner was used on a 134.2 chip, it showed a chip was there but a code didn't pop up.
The Humane Society of the United States says this problem is already leading to sadness for some families.
"We've had several instances where the chip was not found. The animal was adopted to a new home or in one instance euthanized," John Snyder, of the Humane Society, said.
Yet there is technology to prevent these cases from happening. It's a global scanner that can read every frequency.
Avid, the manufacturer of a 125 chip, the most commonly used frequency in this country, says the answer is to standardize the chip frequency instead of requiring a global scanner.
Microchips are important, so until the readability issue is figured out, head to your vet or shelter before you chip to see what frequencies are read in your area.
Congress has stepped in to try and resolve the microchip issue.
They're calling on the USDA to come up with some sort of regulation to make chips readable under all circumstances. However it's important to note, whatever the USDA decides, the agency can only regulate places like breeders and animal research facilities. They do not have any authority over what happens with family pets.
- Teen survives 5 Fwy crash, killed by traffic
- San Dimas boat crash leaves 1 dead, 1 injured 44 min ago
- Los Angeles Marathon 2014 street closures
- Bees attack 71-year-old woman in Palm Desert
- IE WWII Medal of Honor recipient laid to rest
- L.A. man wanted in attempted Banksy theft
- abcnews: Ex-FBI agent in captivity for 7 years
- Ukraine won't budge '1 centimeter' from land
- William Clay Ford, Lions owner, dies
- Photos: 'Revenge's Emily VanCamp: 15 Sexiest Looks