A pet microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It only contains one piece of information: a unique 9, 10, or 15 digit number! Kind of like a dog social security number. For the microchip to work it needs to be registered to an online registry! The microchip does not have any of your information in it.
An unregistered number is hard to trace back to the owner. Often a busy shelter may not have the time or resources to track the information. I spent hours checking out microchip information to find the owner had moved and did not re-register the information.
Interestingly, registries in the United States are not required to speak to each other or share owner information, so shelters that don’t search microchips online would theoretically have to call every single microchip supplier one by one to determine where it may be registered (a complicated and potentially deadly process for your pet).
A microchip does not act as a GPS, it’s called a passive responder. It does nothing until a scanner is passed over it. At that point the chip uses energy produced by the scanner to emit a unique number code.
Yes! Every pet should have a microchip with current registration, but the quickest way to get a lost pet home may just be a collar and tag with your phone number on it! Never underestimate the power of an external tag along with a microchip! It is visible and easy to understand. A first time pet owner should know how to contact you. It can still fall off or be damaged, but with both you have two solid layers to get your pet back. Many times I have used collar and current tag information to get a dog back home! Cats that go outside should have a breakaway collar to prevent getting tangled.
Shelters need a universal scanner, unless the scanner picks up all three frequencies (the 125, 128, and 134.2), it is NOT universal.
So unless they use AAHA’s pet microchip lookup tool petmicrochiplookup.org to expand their search, your pet might never make it home, even though you kept your registration up to date.
The Gem Veterinary Clinic offers microchip service, they will be happy to assist you!