Microchipping your dog or cat will ensure they can be reconnected with you if they should ever become lost. However, many people believe that just having a microchip is enough and don’t fully register their pet’s microchip number.
How do you register the number? How do you know what the number is? Where can you get a microchip? And is a microchip a GPS? These are some of the questions we answer in this video with the help of Miriam Laibson, Director of Registry Programs for Michelson Found Animals.
This video is part of the Pet Voices PRESENTS series. CLICK HERE to see all the series videos.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:02
If you’ve had a pet anytime in your lifetime, especially recently, then you’ve probably at least heard the term “microchip.” Though microchips are overwhelmingly positive and really helpful for pet safety, there are so many myths and misconceptions about them out there.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:17
For instance, a lot of people have misconceptions about what a microchip even is. And if you do have it, does that mean your pet is just set? If they get lost, somebody scans it, and all the information is automatically there?
There are a lot of things that we realize that people don’t take into account when it comes to what a microchip is and how one is used.
WHAT IS A MICROCHIP?
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 0:36
We really wanted to debunk some of these false ideas and get the real scoop on microchips. So we reached out to Michelson Found Animals who established the very first, free microchip registry. And asked all of our questions to their Director of Registry Program, Miriam Laibson. Here is what she had to say about what a microchip is and what it isn’t.
Miriam Laibson, Michelson Found Animals, Director of Registry Program – 0:57
A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It is implanted just under the skin in between the shoulder blades. And it is a passive transponder. So, what that means, is that it is not actively emitting a signal. It is only when a universal scanner is waved over the pet that the signal is emitted and all that is sent out is a number. So, what a microchip is not, the biggest thing, is a GPS. And that is one of our largest misconceptions. A microchip is not a GPS. There is no way to track the location of a pet through the microchip.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 1:33
When Miriam says that a microchip is about the size of a grain of rice, she’s not kidding. Look at this. Look how tiny it is. You’d expect it to be pretty small since it goes inside your dog or your cat. But for comparison, this is an average size Chapstick, lip balm, whatever you want to call it, next to a microchip. And it actually fits right in the bottom there, so it’s smaller than your average Chapstick diameter.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 2:04
She also mentioned that the numbers are unique. And I think that’s important to emphasize. Because it’s sort of like how as people we have social security numbers. Your pet has a microchip number, so it is something you want to keep private. It’s yours. And also, you want to make sure that number is associated with the right information, which means you have to put that information in there. Don’t forget that when it’s scanned, all you’re going to get is a number. It’s a unique number. Keep it private and make sure you have your information registered, so that when it is scanned, whoever has your lost pet, can connect you back with them.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AVAILABLE MICROCHIPS AND REGISTRIES
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 2:42
After we started doing all this research on microchips and registries, it occurred to me that I had actually moved recently, and I hadn’t updated my contact information on either of my dog’s microchips. When I logged into make those changes, I realized that for one of them, I actually had to pay. It was an upgrade to update my address within the registry connected to my dog’s microchip.
When I adopted my dog, Ralph, I didn’t really have a choice with what brand of microchip or registry. It was done by the rescue, so I didn’t really put any consideration into it. But that got me wondering, are there better registries out there? Are there better microchips out there? So, we went back to Miriam at Michelson Found Animals to get her take on the differences between microchips and registries. And here’s what she said.
Miriam Laibson, Michelson Found Animals, Director of Registry Program – 3:31
So, there are multiple registries in the U.S. The first thing that you want to make sure of before you choose a registry, is that they participate in the AAHA Lookup Tool. The AAHA Lookup Tool, which is PetMicrochipLookup.org, is an aggregate of all of the U.S. registries, except for Avid. And what that means, is that if you go to this lookup tool and you type in the microchip number, it will tell you which registry contains the most up to date information for that chip. So, the first thing you want to make sure of when you choose a registry, is that it participates in the AAHA Lookup Tool. Because if it doesn’t, that will impede the chance of your lost pet getting home.
Now, when it comes to choosing a microchip, most microchips are fairly the same in terms of how they are built and how they function. There are a few different sizes of chips. There are mini chips, slim chips, and standard chips, but the main thing you want to make sure of is that you are using an ISO standard chip. There are three different frequencies. 134.2-kilohertz is the ISO standard frequency. And this means, it is the international standard. So, if you chip your pet in America and you move overseas, that microchip will still be able to be read by any universal scanner.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 4:51
Frequencies. Let’s break that down. Because there are more than one. There are 125-kilohertz. There are 128-kilohertz. And there’s the standard, and what you do want if you have the choice, of 134.2-kilohertz. That is the one that is recognized everywhere.
And nowadays, most veterinarians and shelters, they’ll have universal scanners. And so, you should be able to get any kilohertz picked up. But it’s important for you to know because if you don’t have that 134.2, you want to know what you do have, just in case. And if you have a choice, you should get that. Because then you just know it will be read by any scanner.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 5:32
But now that your pet is microchipped, and you’ve picked the right microchip and the right registry, you can’t just stop there. Understanding the differences is just a start. But I’ll let Miriam tell us how we can actually complete the microchipping and pet identification process.
Miriam Laibson, Michelson Found Animals, Director of Registry Program – 5:47
So, when you first bring home a new pet that is already microchipped, hopefully the adopting organization will give you the paperwork. But just in case they don’t, as long as you have that chip number, you can register that chip with any registry in the U.S. The first thing that we would say, even before you check that chip, get a collar and a tag for your pet because pets are most likely to get lost in those first few days at home. If you bring home a new pet, before you even do anything, put on a collar and a tag.
After you do that, take the chip number that you were given at the time of adoption or you can take your pet to be scanned by almost any veterinarian or even shelter. But you can take your pet to almost any vet or shelter and they will scan your pet for free. If you’re unsure of your pet’s microchip number or you just want to be extra, extra sure because they can be up to 15 digits long and it can be really easy to make a typo, then take your pet to get scanned.
So once you have a collar and tag for your pet and you know the microchip number, you want to register that chip as soon as possible. Because again, pets are most likely to get lost in those first few days that they come. Everything is new, they don’t really know what their home is, where it is, and they are confused. So you want to make sure that you’ve done everything possible to make sure that if your pet was to become lost during that first week you can get it home with the collar, the tag, and the registered chip.
Of course, I will say, Michelson Found Animals Registry is free. And because of that, we are online only. You can do everything online. But it would not be responsible of me to not to point out that there are other registries in the U.S. They are all fantastic. Some are paid. Some are not. But we all have the same goal of getting lost pets home.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR YOUR MICROCHIP INFORMATION
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 7:43
Okay. So, lets get specific. If you are sitting there and you’re like, “Wait my pet has a microchip and I have the number, but I don’t know if the information is up to date or how I should go about updating it. Where do I start?” The first place you should go is to the website, PetMicrochipLookup.org. It is a site owned by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). It is a free lookup tool. You can go there. Assuming you have your microchip number. You can put it in. It will tell you what registry you are registered with and you can go to that registry to get your information up to date. If you don’t know your microchip number, we’ll go back to that in a minute.
But remember the AAHA Lookup Tool. That’s where you can go and put your chip in to find out the registry. Then there, in the registry, you can get your information up to date.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 8:33
And if you don’t know if your pet has a microchip or if you have misplaced the rescue documentation and are just unsure of the brand or microchip number, don’t worry because there is a really easy solution. You can take your pet to any vet and pretty much any shelter or rescue that has a microchip scanner. As Chloe mentioned though, one tip is to make sure that they are using a universal scanner just in case your pet’s chip has a less common frequency.
And if they are using a universal scanner and you’re pretty sure that your pet is chipped, then I would recommend asking the scanner operator to move the scanner around your pets back, neck, and even upper arms just to check to see if the chip has migrated. It’s rare, but microchips can migrate a bit, so it’s best to check a wide range of areas.
One of the things that I do for my pets, at their annual exams, I always have our vets just check and make sure that their chips are where we expect them to be.
Chloe DiVita, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 9:32
And remember, when you get your pet scanned, you are only getting a number. The scanner is going to find the chip and give you a number. And that’s it. So, it’s up to you. You can go back to the AAHA Lookup Tool at PetMicrochipLookup.org, to put the number in and see where you are registered. So, you can get your information up to do.
We hope that you learned something new and took away some new tips. And that your pet’s microchip will be all up to date after this. Or maybe you need to get your pet microchipped.
And if we did teach you something, or you have something else to share, let us know below. We want to hear your comments.
Jessica Shipman, All Pet Voices Co-Founder – 10:03
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For more information on Michelson Found Animals:
Website – www.foundanimals.org