The microchip mess explained.
When it comes to technology resolving the epidemic as is, numerous technologies have been developed, marketed and sold to pet owners over the 3 decades and it’s a multi-billion dollar industry, but nothing has worked and the epidemic has not improved in that time.
Out of all these technologies, microchips have the most potential by far. They’ll work 100% of the time if scanned and properly registered and because they are implanted they are the only permanent form of identification for pets. Whereas everything else is attached to a collar that can fall off or be taken off, microchips will not tarnish or become impossible to read. They don’t rely on an external power source so there is not need to recharge them, there are no moving parts and they will last a pets entire lifetime. They are also very small. So small, the process in which they are implanted is no more invasive than a routine vaccination so it will not hurt your pet.
If scanning was the standard for all veterinarians and shelters, the missing pet epidemic could be greatly reduced.
One would assume that microchips are a sure way to get their pet back in the event they ever wind up missing for all the above reasons; never-the-less, there is no standardization among different microchip companies so pets are seldom recovered.
No standardization has led to a lack of scanning.
There are multiple microchip companies with multiple scanners, multiple frequencies in which they operate, multiple cataloging systems and multiple registration data bases. No truly universal scanner could read the broad range of microchips encountered by veterinarians and shelters when they receive missing pets and this has led to a lack of scanning for microchips altogether.
Unfortunately no truly universal scanner could read the broad range of microchips encountered by veterinarians and shelters when they receive missing pets.
Peeva blasted out a dynamic survey to close to 2000 veterinarians throughout the country and we learned that pet microchips are not scanned consistently for one or more of the following reasons:
- They were unaware that their scanner isn’t universal
- They don’t have a scanner
- They do not have to scan for microchips because it is not standard operating procedure
- They will scan only if someone brings an animal in that they found to see if they could locate the owner.
- Their job is to treat animals, not police puppy theft.
- Scanners are expensive
- It is not their responsibility to keep purchasing new scanners whenever there is an update or a new microchip company that comes along
- Microchips don’t work
- Scanning takes time, resources, and staff
It’s much easier for a veterinarians to assume that the person that brought the animal into the vet is the pet’s rightful owner. At least the pet didn’t wind up in a shelter.
Why isn’t there a global standard?
There is in Canada and the EU; however, pet ownership is not regulated in the United States. This is why the potential of RFID and microchip technology is limited.
In the US, however, the Animal Welfare Act does not authorize the USDA-APHIS to regulate private pet ownership, and concluded that it cannot mandate a national standard for pet microchips or scanners. There has been a push towards an ISO standard here in the United States for close to 2 decades.
That being said, this is a problem that isn’t going away on its own. Social causes don’t move mountains. The problem is also much more complex than that.
To truly resolve the missing pet epidemic a better system of data management is needed.
The veterinary field lags considerably behind other industries technologically. Veterinarians lack access to raw data let alone the ability to pull it all together.
If a microchip can be scanned — let alone detected — multiple registries need to be visited until a match is found. Then that registry needs to be called. Calls are often placed on hold for long periods and veterinarians do not have the time staff or resources to accommodate for the overall process. It is much easier to assume the person that brought in the stolen pet is the rightful owner.
Aren't there central pet registries?
Paid Central Registries
Every microchip company would like to have a central registry, but neither of those registries are willing to share their data with other registries. That is also a BIG part of the data problem
What about the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup
The AAHA universal pet microchip lookup tool, for example, requires that the microchip also is registered with the primary registry of the brand of microchip that the pet was implanted with. It also puts the onus on the pet owner to register with the AAHA tool directly. Pet owners are not aware of the lack of standardization issue that Peeva is resolving in the first place, so it should never be assumed a microchip is not registered if it can-not be found in the lookup tool.
The look up tool does not provide the pet owner’s contact information.
It provides the name of the primary registry the microchip is registered with only. Then that registry needs to be called.
The look up tool does not aggregate data from the various registries of the various microchip companies all competing for market share. That is a big part of the data problem peeva is resolving.
In conclusion, the pet microchip lookup tool is far from comprehensive.
FREE online central registries
There are numerous free central registries that can be found online, but they can actually compound the pet problem as anyone can register a microchip ID with no proof of ownership. These are also simply devices to collect data that can be sold to various organizations for marketing and spam purposes.