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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Two Places to Register Your Microchip Free

There are two places to register your pet's microchip for free, and I am registering mine with both. Things have changed a lot since I got Brisbane microchipped over a decade ago, and now there are more options than ever. Today's scanner can detect most chips, and not every company that sells chips has their own registry. Various companies have changed their technology, and information can be updated online rather than by mail. Here's a 2016 look at maximizing your microchips.
Australian cattle dog mix puppy
Baby Brisbane was chipped back when
we registered them by snail mail.

"Universal" Chips

Microchip identification of pets was invented in the late 1980's, but it wasn't until the mid-1990's that the general public really became aware of the concept. At that point, according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association, two companies held patent rights to microchips that operate on the 125-kHz frequency. Meanwhile, an International Standards Organization standard has been developed for chips that operate on the 134-kHz frequency. 

If you see a chip labeled ISO, 134, or 134.2, this is an internationally-recognized chip with a 15-digit code. I feel it is the most likely to be read, and will be making sure I put ISO chips in all of my future pets.

Registration Then and Now

There is no universal national microchip database. When Brisbane and the Hellions were chipped, eleven and eight years ago respectively, the companies selling the chips maintained their own registries. I had to mail off their registration forms, and making changes to the information involved downloading and printing a form and then mailing that off with a check. The companies, HomeAgain and InfoPet, both charged for information updates. The companies also kept track of who they sold their chips to, so an unregistered chip could be tracked to the veterinarian that sold it originally.

Today, there are a lot of different companies selling microchip kits for pets, and many do not keep any sort of records at all. You can buy a chip from them, and implant it in your pet, but unless you deliberately register it somewhere, nobody will be able to connect it to you. A microchip is like an individual serial number, the chip itself contains only that number. This has become an issue in recent years, lost pets turn up in shelters and get scanned, only to find that their chip number cannot be found in any registry.

Register That Chip!

Happily registering a microchip and updating the information is easier than ever. You should be able to update your contact information online for free if your chip manufacturer maintains their own registry. HomeAgain and probably some of the others charge an annual subscription fee for additional services, but once your pet's chip is registered with them, it stays registered forever. 

If you know your pet's chip number, you can look it up via that American Animal Hospital Association's microchip lookup tool. This won't tell you the contact information associated with the chip, but it will tell you who it is registered with. It even gives you a link to each registry website. When someone finds a chipped pet and uses the lookup tool, they can contact the registries listed to get the owner's contact information. I use this tool quite a bit, recently I discovered that someone's dog of many years had a totally unregistered chip.

There are two places to register your chip online for free, and all you need to know is your pet's chip number. The Found Animals Registry is the first place I registered my pets. They let you set up a profile for each of your pets, with pictures and medical information. I just registered them with Free Pet Chip Registry, and found it interesting that the registries don't cross-reference with each other. Sisci Godzilla's chip is still registered to her breeder through Found Animals, but Free Pet Chip Registry allowed me to register her to myself. 

There are at least a dozen other registries out there, some sell their own brand of microchips but most will register any chip. However, they all charge for their services, and some also charge an annual subscription fee. They also claim to be universal national databases. So far, Found Animals is the most widely cited free database out there, and I think they come pretty close to being a universal national registry. I strongly encourage everyone to cross-register their pets with Found Animals and the Free Pet Chip Registry. They don't want to sell you anything, they just want to help you find your pet.

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