Implantable microchips, also known as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, help identify and locate lost pets. A veterinarian or other animal health care specialists inject an identifying circuit underneath the skin of an animal, such as a dog, cat, horse, or parrot. The microchip, about the size of a large grain of rice, emits a radio frequency signal that transmits data to a special handheld device.
Implantable microchips have several uses and benefits for animal shelters and veterinarians. For instance, they can help the workers at these facilities identify any lost animals and return them to their owners. The majority of animal shelters, kennels, breeders, registries, trainers, rescue groups, farms, stables, animal clubs, and humane societies inject animals with implantable microchips. RFID technology has evolved to incorporate electronic equipment to activate when the pet approaches within a certain distance. For instance, there are pet doors that will open automatically when the pet gets near the door. Some countries have started to require microchip tagging of pets to keep track of vaccination records.
How Microchips Work
After verifying that your pet does not already have a chip, the veterinarian or technician will record the microchip's unique identification code into a database and inject the chip using a sterile syringe, usually just under the skin between the shoulder blades. The process is as quick as a routine shot, and the chip is completely harmless; your pet won’t even know it’s there.
The facility may conduct tests to ensure that the identification tag works properly. You will complete an enrollment form with your contact information. If your contact information ever changes, you’ll need to let your vet know so the form can be updated. The facility then sends the enrollment form to a registry, which may be the chip's manufacturer, distributor, or national database. You might be charged a small fee for being added to the registry. You’ll also receive a registration certificate or some other documentation in the mail or at the vet’s office.
Now if your pet is ever lost and then found and brought to a vet or shelter, the facility will scan your pet for a microchip and check the microchip databases for a match. The ID number on the chip will match the information on the form you filled out, allowing the facility to contact you about your lost pet.
- The Microchip World- Recent Advances and Options - An extensive fact sheet that provides information on recent technological developments with microchip implantation for pets.
- Microchips 101- What Every Pet Owner Needs to Know- A comprehensive article that explains the advantages and disadvantages of getting pets tagged with microchips.
- Lost Pets- RFID and GPS - A comprehensive webpage that explains how radio frequency identification (RFID) technology can help find lost pets using GPS.
- Microchipping for Pets - A short article that covers recent events related to implanting pets with microchips.
- Microchips Results in Higher Return Rate of Lost Pets to Animal Shelters and Eventually Their Owners - An article from Ohio State University's School of Veterinary Medicine that explains how microchip implantation has resulted in a higher return rate of lost pets to their owners.
- RFID Inside- The Murky Ethics of Implanted Chips (PDF) - An abstract paper that covers the ethical debate of injecting implantable RFID microchips into humans.
- /li>Microchip Implants- FAQ (PDF) - Frequently asked questions and answers about microchip implants for pets.
- Is Your Cat Infected with a Computer Virus? (PDF) - An abstract paper that deals with some of the controversies centered on implantable RFID tags.
- RFID Privacy- An Overview of Problems and Proposed Solutions (PDF) - An extensive document that covers the privacy issues concerned with RFID tags and proposes solutions to help stave off resistance to the technology.
- An Introduction to RFID Technology (PDF) - An authoritative document that explains the dynamics behind RFID technology.
- Microchip- FAQ - The Department of Animal Care and Control answers a set of frequently asked questions about the choice of implanting pets with embedded microchips.
- Microchipping - The City of Houston explains why having pets microchipped is the responsible way of taking care of your furry little friends.
- Microchipping Animals - The Louisiana State University's Veterinary Department explains why pet owners should get their pets microchipped as an act of emergency preparedness.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About the Microchipping of Animals - The American Veterinary Medical Association provides information for pet owners interested in having their pets tagged with implantable microchips.
- Microchips Keep People and Pets Together - The Seattle Humane Society explains how microchip identification helps to keep pets and their owners together.