Lost AND found: Microchips

–One of the best stories I was witness to was because of a mircochip.  When I was working at my county animal control – a stray Golden Retriever came in.  We scanned the dog, as was protocol, and found that his information led us to a woman in Florida – I live in IL.

We called the woman and she began sobbing uncontrollably.  When she finally composed herself – we found out that she had lost her dog two years ago during a hurricane.  Within 24 hours she was on a plane and meeting one of our officers at Ohare International Airport – taking her dog home for the first time in 2 years.

How the dog ever got to IL we may never know – but it is likely that he was rescued at the time of the hurricane and, perhaps, lost in the shuffle of confusion and never scanned or the scanner that the rescue used did not pick up his particular microchip.

Here are some facts about microchips: there are multiple manufacturers of them and the chips are not all set to the same frequency.  There are 3 possible frequencies: 134.2 kHz, 125 kHz and 128 kHz.  There are also two types of scanners: forward scanners which only detect 134.2 kHz and Universal (forward-backward) scanners which will detect all frequencies.  Unfortunately, there is no regulation on what types of chips are used or what scanners are in operation so any scenario is possible.

The best thing to do is to get your pet an ISO standard chip, which is the 134.2 kHz, because that is readable by any of the scanners.  If your pet is already chipped with one of the other types of chips – you can have them re-chipped: the two chips will not interfere with one another and you have twice the protection that your pet’s chip will be detected.

Statistics which demonstrate the effectiveness of chipping: Out of 7700 strays 21.9% of unchipped dogs were returned to their owners while 52.2% of chipped dogs were returned.  Nearly double the percentages.  For cats, the numbers are astonishing!  1.8% of non-chipped cats were returned and 38.5% of the chipped cats were returned.

I assume that the cats’ number is influenced by how few probably had ID tags/collars but still the numbers only reinforce the importance of microchipping.  It truly can make the difference between getting your pet back or losing them forever.

In the study there were animals who were chipped but not returned to their owners and this was primarily because the information held by the chip company was inaccurate.  Meaning that either the animal was registered to the wrong person or facility or the information on file was no longer accurate for the current owner, ie: wrong phone number.

It is important to understand how chipping works… If you get your dog from a shelter, rescue or breeder – it is likely that they will be chipped.  However it is also likely that the information registered will be that of the rescue, shelter or breeder and not your own.  Often you will be given a new registration form or phone number to contact and change the information to your contact info but many people do not follow through on this step.

If you are like me – you might not even recall if you followed through or if all of your pets are microchipped so what can we do?

1)    Call and ask your vet or local shelter if they have a Universal scanner and then take your pet there to be scanned

2)    Once they scan your pet, they can tell you what company your pet’s chip is from and you can find out the frequency

3)    The ID number from the chip will allow you to check the accuracy of the information on file and if necessary you can make any changes

4)    If you find your pet is not chipped, you should request that your pet be chipped with the ISO standard chip with a frequency of 134.2 kHz to ensure that any scanner will be able to identify it.  You might have to shop around for this because vets, shelters and rescues all use different types of chips.

And while chipping is certainly a major factor in having your pet return home – the number one factor is having a collar with proper ID tags including your CURRENT contact information.  A cell phone number is far better than a home number for a few reasons: if you are traveling with your pet when they become lost – you can be reached and if you are out looking for your dog that means you are not sitting by the home phone.  It is also a good idea to have your pet’s CURRENT rabies tags on their collar.  This puts people at ease that your pet is up to date with vaccines and there is a number on the rabies tag that also identifies them with the local animal control.

If only our pets could talk – none of this would matter.  But, they can’t so it is our job to make sure people know who they are and where they live.  If only we could stop them from chasing squirrels or cars or wandering off – but their curiosity and unbridled passion for life is why we loved them in the first place.

For more information on the study and other FAQ’s:


By Becky Monroe – Guest Blogger for Lost Dogs Illinois

Check out Becky’s blog:  http://www.tailsandtruths.blogspot.com/