American Humane today warned pet owners that animal shelters may not have scanners that can detect all the different brands of microchips currently being placed in pets. Pet owners are urged to be sure their companion animals are wearing current identification tags, and to ask their local shelter which microchips are compatible with their scanner.
"Microchips coupled with the traditional tag and collar can provide a good deal of certainty that a lost animal will be identified and returned home, but consumers need to do their homework," says Jodi Lytle Buckman, director of animal programs.
The warning comes as a new brand of chips is currently entering the market and only a fraction of shelters nationwide have received the scanners that can detect these new chips. A recent study found that no single scanner currently on the market will read all the chips offered to pet owners.
"The microchip manufacturers supplying the United States have put their market share over the best interest of animals by failing to provide universal scanners that can read all the chips and failing to widely distribute scanners to shelters and veterinarians. Instead, they have placed the burden on pet owners, animal shelters, and veterinarians to keep up with the changes in technology," says Buckman.
Buckman adds that any new manufacturer entering the market has a social responsibility to ensure all animal welfare organizations have scanners that can read their chips. "Animal shelters and veterinarians are already struggling to do their best to ensure that every pet goes home to its family," adds Buckman.
The organization offers this advice concerning pet identification:
- Contact your local animal control agencies, humane societies, and animal shelters to find out which brand of microchip is in place in their community;
- Do not rely on what a company might say about its products or those of its competitors. Trust an independent source. Read American Humane's complete microchip study at www.americanhumane.org.
- Always provide your pet with a collar, id tag, and license as well as a microchip as the most reliable way to ensure your pet returns to you.
- Be sure to keep your information current and change that information if you move or get a new phone number.
- Tag Day is April 3, 2004. The annual campaign encourages pet owners to microchip or tattoo and place ID tags on their pets.
Every year, thousands of companion animals are lost and taken to shelters, but only a small percentage are actually returned to their owners. Experts on animal sheltering stress that the presence of some form of identification is the chief factor in reuniting a lost pet with its family. As simple as the idea may sound, many people fail to provide their pets with current identification.
American Humane is a national organization dedicated to both child and animal protection.