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Randall's RFID Page | Microchips and Your Pet

Microchips and Your Pet

(updated 10/08/2007 thanks to Andy Kluck and Jeremy with their input and corrections)

    What You Should Know Before Microchiping Your Pet -

    Microchiping, your pet is the best way to positively identify your pet. But the reality of how effective it is depends upon how many animals are micro chipped in your area and how many shelters and vets in your area routinely check for microchips.

    Even if your area shelters routinely check for microchips, please keep a collar or harness with an ID tag on your pet with your current phone number. The first person to find your pet will not have a microchip scanner will but probably have a cell phone.

    There is more to microchiping your pet than just the microchip. A microchip system relies on three components:

    1) The microchip - a small grain of rice sized glass encapsulated computer chip with an identification number and miniature antenna implanted under the skin.

    2) The scanner - A device which emits the proper radio signals to activate and “read” the information in the chip. The microchip reflects a weak radio signal encoded with that identification number when illuminated by the radio signal emitted by a compatible scanner.

    3) The database - An information archive with the records that match the identification number in the microchip to the owner’s contact information. The information in this database must be current to be of any value.

    4) If you plan to travel internationally and take your pet with you be sure and check the identification requirements in the countries you plan to visit. PetTravel.com is a good place to start.

    Providers of Microchips and Services

    American Kennel Club

    • In Feb. 2007, AKC CAR (Companion Animal Recovery) and Electronic ID Devices, Ltd. (EID) entered into a distribution agreement, where AKC CAR become the exclusive distributor of TROVAN microchips in the United States. See - AKC CAR Introduces New Microchip ID System and AKC CAR microchip.
    • AKC CAR offers a scanner that reads all other 125 kHz microchips and will detect an ISO chip.
    • Administers its own AKC Companion Animal Recovery (AKC CAR) database.

    AVID - (American Veterinary Identification Devices)

    • AVID microchips and scanners are distributed in the US by companies like Microchip I.D. Systems to veterinarians and animal breeders.
    • The Avid chip numbers can remain registered to the the veterinarian and animal breeder it was sold to, or for a fee, the animal can be enrolled in AVID's PETtrac® (1-800-336-2843) program under the owner's name.
    • If you decide to microchip your pet with an AVID microchip, ask your vet to use a universal or EURO Chip.

    Crystal Tag

    • Crystal Tag markets ISO Standard 11784 microchips under the Crystal Tag product name.
    • Crystal sells a universal reader which complies with ISO Standard 11785. With the ability to read ISO FDX-B and FDX-A/FECAVA, Trovan, and encrypted 125 kHz chips
    • Crystal Tag is associated with PetLink International Pet Directory (https://www.petlink.net/)

    Pethealth Inc.

    • Pethealth Inc. markets microchips under the 24PetWatch product name.
    • Pethealth Inc. administers the 24PetWatch database.
    • 24PetWatch has universal scanners and both ISO(Canada only ) and non-ISO( US only ) microchips


    • Schering-Plough markets microchips under the HomeAgain™ product name.
    • Schering-Plough Animal Health Corporation administers its HomeAgain® Microchip database and lost pet recovery service.
    • Microchips and readers are manufactured by Digital Angel Corporation (formerly Destron Fearing).

    Current Issues

    Microchips Available in North America

    FECAVA ISO AVID Encrypted
    AKA - (old) Canadian Standard, FDX-A, 125 kHz, Annex A of ISO standard 11785, the Euro-chip, PetNet and Anitech chip.

    AKA - FDX-B, 134.2 KHz, the Allflex, EIDAP and 24PetWatch chip.

    Crystal Tag

    AKA - Avid
    Frequency - 125 kHz Frequency - 134.2 kHz Frequency -125 kHz
    10 alpha-numeric characters 15 numeric-only characters

    9 digit

    USA & Canada Canada USA

    Multiple Databases

    AKC Companion Animal Recovery 1-800-252-7894
    AVID USA PETtrac
    PetLink 1-877-PETLINK (1-877-738-5465)
    24PetWatch 1-866-597-2424
    HomeAgain HomeAgain members have a toll free number
    If the information in a database is not current and accurate
    it doesn't do much good to scan a microchip.
    National Tattoo and Microchip Registries

Current USA Issues -

    I recently came across a web site which succinctly describes the current confusion around the various and apparently conflicting ISO Standards on the SageKeep Kennels Microchips page. I have requested permission from the author to reprint that succinct description on this web page.

    World Small Animal Veterinary Association - United States Microchip Report- 2006
    American Veterinary Identification Devices (AVID)
    AVID Reader United States- Reads AVID & HomeAgain microchips. Can’t detect ISO 134.2 kHz microchips
    AVID Microchips United States- Encrypted 125 kHz microchips
    AVID maintains its own database Pet Trac.

    HomeAgain (Digital Angel) distributed by Schering Plough
    HomeAgain Veterinary Reader United States- Reads HomeAgain microchips & only detects AVID microchips. Cannot detect ISO microchips.
    HomeAgain Shelter Reader United States- Reads HomeAgain microchips & AVID microchips. Cannot detect ISO microchips.
    HomeAgain Microchips United States- Unencrypted 125 kHz microchips
    HomeAgain maintains its own database HomeAgain Pet Recovery Service

    Banfield/ 24PetWatch
    Banfield, a corporation of over 500 veterinary hospitals in the United States, has recently begun to dual implant microchips in pets. They are implanting a 125 kHz microchip AND a 132.4 kHz microchip into companion pets since July of 2006. Reportedly, Banfield is seeing about a 5% acceptance of the dual chipping procedure from their clients. The 2 injections are located 1 inch apart per Banfield

    ISO Microchips
    ISO Standard 11784, 134.2 kHz microchips are again being implanted in companion animals in the United States. As discussed above, the vast majority of the microchip scanner infrastructure within the United States companion animal community is unable to read frequencies other than the 125 kHz microchips at this time.

    Recent Developments in the United States

    In April of 2006, Bayer Animal Health and Datamars began distributing a new “universal” iMax Black Label microchip reader within the United States The iMax Black Label reader will read 125 kHz encrypted and unencrypted (AVID) microchips as well as most 134.2 kHz or ISO microchips. To date, 8,000 scanners have been distributed. Bayer/Datamars plan to distribute 20,000 free scanners to the animal shelter community. An additional 10,000 scanners will be available for the veterinary community for discount purchase with a microchip order. Datamars believes they have eliminated potential litigation concerns regarding this multi-read scanner within the United States by designing this scanner with a non-patent infringement technology.

    Since late in 2005, the Digital Angel Corporation has been distributing the HomeAgain WorldScan microchip reader through Schering Plough. The WorldScan reader reads all 125 kHz microchips including the AVID encrypted microchip and 128 kHz (Trovan) microchips. This scanner also detects all and reads some ISO or 134.2 kHz microchips.
    Source: WSAVA - United States Microchip Report- 2006

    Nov. 10, 2005 - RFID Journal - U.S. Bill Includes RFID Provision for Pets
    Legislation approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 28 and the U.S. Senate on Nov. 3, and now awaiting President Bush's signature, could make it easier for pet hospitals and shelters to use radio frequency identification to reunite pet owners with their lost animals. Million of pets in the United States have RFID tags embedded under their skin, but the tags (which animal hospitals and shelters call microchips) do not all operate at the same frequency, nor are they readable by all RFID interrogators (readers) used by vets and shelters.

    The provision is included in House Report 109-255, accompanying the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill (HR 2744). If President Bush signs it, the legislation would require the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the branch of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture charged with protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health and safeguarding the well being of domestic animals - "to develop the appropriate regulations that allow for universal reading ability and best serve the interests of pet owners." This would ensure that any lost pet could have its implanted tag read and be linked to its owner through a national database.
    (more....) http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/1976/1/1/

    On February 3, 2005 Schering-Plough Animal Health Corporation (Schering-Plough) announced the company will transition its HomeAgain® Microchip database and lost pet recovery service from the American Kennel Club (AKC) to internal resources. In effect there are now five (5) separate databases in the US on which animals can be registered. Unfortunately none of them share information with each other.

    Synopsis - HomeAgain - AKC-CAR used to provide the database services for HomeAgain. Schering-Plough, the owner of HomeAgain microchips decided to operate it's own data base registry. HomeAgain (microchip) can be purchased online, along with enrollment in the Recovery Service for $68.50. It can also be purchased directly from veterinary clinics, where the price may vary. When you purchase HomeAgain directly through your veterinarian, enrollment in the database costs an additional $17.50. Pets micro chipped with HomeAgain prior to February 3, 2005 remain enrolled in the new (HomeAgain)recovery database. HomeAgain's statement - http://www.homeagainid.com/news/prs.cfm?action=article&prid=4

    AKC-CAR's database allows you to register the owner's name, address, and telephone number which are linked to the pet's unique identification number, whether it is a microchip, tattoo, or AKC CAR issued collar tag. Standard enrollment fee of $12.50. AKC CAR All pets enrolled prior to February 3, 2005 are still enrolled with AKC CAR. (See AKC-CAR's FAQ web page)

    In May of 2005 concern arose about the introduction of an ISO chip in North America. Due to various legal actions this microchip is not available in the US but is available in Canada and has become the Canadian standard microchip. (See Current Canadian issues below)

    Part of that concern is caused by the use of a different frequency, 134.2 kHz. The current de facto standard in the US is an encrypted Avid microchip which operates at 125 kHz. Many of the older scanners could not read the 134.2 kHz ISO chips.

    Chip Frequency
    125 kHz encrypted 125 kHz
    125 kHz US (Canada 134.2 kHz)
    Scanner Capabilities Reads HomeAgain chip. Does not read ISO chip Reads AVID chip. Does not read ISO chip Slow to read HomeAgain chip. Does not read the AVID chip but shows AVID detected.

    Source: American Humane’s scanner test

    Pethealth Services (USA) Inc., under the 24PetWatch name, launched its microchip, its associated reader technology and database registry service in Wisconsin on May 15,2003. 24PetWatch attempted to supply the ISO chip in several states but was taken to court by Avid.
    Here are some links about the current microchip flap.
    May 14, 2004 - from RFID News - Bainfield The Pet Hospital Stops marketing ISO microchip.
    May 14, 2004 - from RFID News - AVID sues suppliers of ISO microchips for infringement of its US patents.
    Please read the American Humane article - Microchip technology -- Comparisons with the new chip on the block NOTE the American Humane’s scanner test

    In fact the ISO Chips has been available in the U.S. for many years and are required by many other countries. In particular Europe.

    • Today, three companies market microchips, readers, and unique database systems in the United States.
    • The most recent entry, Pethealth Services (USA) Inc., under the 24PetWatch name, launched its microchip, its associated reader technology and database registry service in Wisconsin on May 15,2003. 24PetWatch attempted to supply the ISO chip in several states but was taken to court by Avid. 24PetWatch now provides non-ISO microchips in the US. 24PetWatch has universal scanners and both ISO(Canada only ) and non-ISO( US only ) microchips
    • Not all of the scanners and microchips sold are fully compatible.
    • The microchip must be scanned by a scanner that can read the identification number in the microchip.
    • Newer "universal" scanners are available but are not in general use.
    • The identification number then has to be matched up with information in any of several databases maintained by different companies to identify the pet owner or veterinarian who implanted the microchip.

    Current Canadian Issues -

    • December 1, 2004 the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) and the National Companion Animal Coalition (NCAC) announced the adoption of a new Canadian RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Standard for companion animals. This will replace the present Canadian Standard (FECAVA – 125 kHz non-encrypted microchip) that was adopted in 1995 for the purpose of enhancing pet recovery in Canada.

    Beginning August 1, 2005, the Canadian Standard will reference only the ISO technology for microchips and the NCAC will issue no new compliance approvals for FECAVA chips. Reader requirements will include dual compatibility to ensure readability of FECAVA chips implanted up to August 1st and of ISO chips. See - News @ CKC - New Canadian Standard for Microchips

    • Doindogs Kennel in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, has posted a couple articles about the current issues with microchips in Canada. On the Avid's Microchip article is an excerpt from the March 9, 2005 Avid's Dog Breeder Newsletter whiich has a copy of Cathy Hutcheson, Sales & Marketing Director, Avid Canada March 9, 2005 response to the National Companion Animal Coalition' s efforts to move towards an ISO standard in Canada. Another article, Don't be Blocked by a Chip, has some examples of actual expieriences with Avid encripted microchips and ISO microchips,
    • Suzanne Lavictoire, Director, Programs / Directrice des programmes, CANADIAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION / L'Association canadienne Des médecins vétérinaires requested that I post a letter from Ms. Cathy Hutcheson (AVID Canada) to the National Companion Animal Coalition (NCAC), along with the NCAC’s response on my Web site in order to provide reliable information on RFID technology and on the adoption of ISO in Canada and the Canadian Standard for microchip technology for companion animals.
      - Letter by Ms. Cathy Hutcheson (AVID Canada) March 9, 2005
      - Response from National Companion Animal Coalition March 30, 2005

      Here are a few very important things you should know about registering Microchips in Canada.

    • If you buy AVID microchips from the CKC, they include registration on the CKC's registry, Canada Chip. They do not include registration on AVID's PETtrac Registry and 24 Hour Recovery Service, PETtrac collar tags or implantation by a vet clinic.
    • If you buy an AVID microchip through a vet clinic, it includes PETtrac Registration and 24 Hour Recovery Service, a PETtrac collar tag and the implantation fee in the price.
    • If you buy directly from AVID Canada, PETtrac Registration and 24 Hour Recovery Service as well as PETtrac collar tags are included in the price, but do not include implantation by a vet clinic.
    • What type of microchips should you use?
      For dogs, sterile microchips in a single use disposable needle are mandatory in Canada. No matter where you purchase your microchips from, you should know what standard of microchip to purchase for each dog depending on what country it is destined for. There are two standards of microchips now available in Canada. FECAVA is the current Canadian standard and ISO is the microchip of the future.
    • Need an ISO microchip? The CKC and most Canadian vet clinics still distribute FECAVA microchips, and will for some time yet. If you require and ISO microchip for a dog destined for overseas and cannot get them through your usual distributor, please call AVID Canada direct as they supply both FECAVA and ISO standard Microchips.
      Source: Doingdogs Kennel - Avid's Microchip article ( you will have to scroll way down)

    More answers to your Questions

    How many kinds of microchips are available in North America for Companion Pets?
    Microchips are distributed by many different companies under several different names, making it appear as though there are many different kinds of microchips. Although there is a minimum of six manufacturers producing companion animal microchips, there are only three kinds (standards) used in North America; FECAVA, ISO and AVID Encrypted. FECAVA and ISO are distributed in Canada. FECAVA and AVID Encrypted are distributed in the USA. Here in Canada, FECAVA is also referred to as the Canadian Standard, FDX-A, 125 kHz, Annex A of ISO standard 11785, the Euro-chip, the AVID FriendChip, PetNet and Anitech chip. The ISO standard is also referred to as FDX-B, 134.2 kHz, the Allflex, EIDAP and 24PetWatch chip. Microchip4Solutions distribute both FECAVA and ISO microchips.

    How many different kinds of microchip scanners are there?
    As in the case of microchips, there are several manufacturers of scanners and depending on each country’s adopted standards, scanners may differ from country to country. In Canada, prior to the year 2000, the majority of scanners were provided either by PetNet/Anitech or AVID. Since 2000, additional scanners have been provided by Microchip4Solutions, EIDAP and 24PetWatch. Common scanner names are Destron, Mini Trackers, Pocket readers, Digital Angel, Identifiers, Allflex and Datamars readers.

    What is the difference between FECAVA and ISO microchips?
    When detected by a scanner, a FECAVA microchip appears as 10 alphanumeric characters. Each manufacturer of FECAVA has chosen a unique computer generated sequence of characters to prevent duplication and to help identify the producers and suppliers. An ISO microchip appears as 15 numeric-only characters. Each manufacturer of ISO has been assigned a three digit code, usually beginning with a number “9”. A unique sequence of twelve numbers is to follow. A “0” at the beginning of an ISO sequence picked up on a scanner is not part of the ID number. Some countries have requested that manufacturers produce ISO chips indicating a country code in the sequence. Technically, current FECAVA standards operate on a 125 kHz frequency and ISO operates on a 134.2 kHz frequency. Both standards are administered by the same gauge needle, in the same injection site and read in the same manner.

Other International Issues -

    What type of microchip to purchase for the country a dog will be in:
    Canada - FECAVA (Changing to ISO)
    UK/Europe - ISO
    Australia/New Zealand - ISO
    Most other overseas countries are switching from FECAVA to ISO.
    Source: Doingdogs Kennel - Avid's Microchip article ( you will have to scroll almost to the bottom of the page)

    This technology is evolving and change is a certainty. Be sure to read the fine print.

    Contact the shelter(s) and animal rescue organizations in your area and ask them if they routinely check strays for microchips. Ask your vet and shelter if they have a universal scanner. If they do not, help them get one.

    Microchips are the most reliable method of identifying your pet.  But, do not assume that your pet does not need additional identification just because he or she has a chip.  There are many areas of the country that do not check for chips. Even if your pet has a microchip, please keep a collar and ID tag on him or her. If your pet has a microchip keep your information in the providers database current.

    Most of the shelters in the states of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi do not check for microchips.

    Here in the Memphis, TN area, very few pets are microchiped and the area shelters do not check for them. But that is about to change. As of April 3, 2006 the Memphis Animal Shelter will be microchiping all dogs and cats prior to adoption.  In a January 24, 1999 article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the manager of the Memphis Animal Shelter, Ken Childress, said the product isn't widely used enough in the Memphis area to warrant his staff taking time to detect a chip.  If the microchip was substituted for a license, then maybe it would be effective; otherwise it's useless, he said.  "People here won't buy a license let alone a chip," Childress said.  "If every dog owner followed the law and licensed their dog then there would be a great local database that doesn't need a scanner. "  He said that 90 percent of the animals that come into the shelter don't have any identification.  Many of them have collars, but no identification tag.  The shelter has a 100 percent return rate for animals that wear a license or identification tag.

    More and more shelters are checking for microchips  More shelters and animal rescue groups also require that animals being adopted be implanted with a microchip.

    Some of the other issues concerning the use of microchips are -

    • The shelter(s) in your area may not have a scanner or if they do it may be an older model.  Check with the shelter(s) to see if they check for microchips.
    • There is no US Standard for micro-chipping Companion Animals.
    • In July, 1996, the City of Los Angeles Selected InfoPet Identification Systems and Trovan® Technology for Identifying Pets in City Shelters but the system has yet to be implemented in Los Angeles due to continuing litigation. (See RFID News article)
    • There have been many lawsuits over patents owned by the various chip developers and distributors. InfoPet, a former marketer and distributor of Trovan® microchips and scanners, lost a patent lawsuit in 1998 and currently is not marketing microchips.
    • There is considerable controversy in the US and other countries with the ISO (International Organization for Standardization), 1996 release of ISO11784, Radio frequency identification of animals - Code structure and ISO11785, Radio frequency identification of animals - Technical concept, standards and the subsiquent release of ISO 11784 Annex A in 1996.
    • ISO 11784 Annex A - When ISO standards 11784 and 11785 were developed, there was concern regarding protection of the installed base of microchips, often referred to as backward compatibility. ISO 11785 Annex A was developed to address this issue during the transition period between prior and ISO standard technology and defined the need for readers to read three technologies (Destron, Datamars, and Trovan) for a period of 2 years. AVID was not included in Annex A because they elected not to provide the encryption code with which to read their encrypted microchips. However, this 2-year period has long since passed and this was clearly defined in ISO 11785, Section 2 (Conformance), wherein it states "...transponders meeting the requirements of Annex A may be applied for a transition period of 2 years from the date of the first edition of this international standard." The date of the first edition was 1996, and as this time frame was completed in 1998, Annex A is no longer applicable, hence, Annex A microchips are not true ISO standard microchips. Source - World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Microchip FAQs
      For more information see -
    • In many other countries, legislation is emerging, especially for companion animals adopting ISO transponders.  Here is a list of national developments regarding the ISO 11784/11785 standards:
      • In France: a field trial on chipping dogs and cats with ISO transponders is being carried out.
      • In the UK: a database has been built for companion animals (173,000 being chipped ); legislation of the use of transponders according the ISO standard is under preparation and will become effective by 2001; the National Cattle Database is making progress, more than 12,000 animals have already been recorded.
      • In The Netherlands: By 2000 a law will become effective for the identification/registration of companion animals by tattooing or by using ISO compatible transponders.
      • In Australia/New Zealand, the ISO standard is expected to be accepted by their Joint Committee.
    • Originality three companies manufactured microchips and scanners for companion animals in the United States.  Each one using differing technology. Trovan, marketed and distributed by InfoPET Systems (no longer in business), Destron Fearing, marketed and distributed by Schering-Plough Animal Health, and AVID (American Veterinary Identification Devices) marketed and distributed by participating veterinarians. Today, two companies, Avid and Schering-Plough market microchips in the United States.
    • In September 2000, Destron Fearing merged with Digital Angel.net Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions, and the combined companies do business under the Digital Angel.net Inc. name.
    • The AKC formed an alliance with Schering-Plough Animal Health and recommends the HomeAgain™ system. AKC Companion Animal Recovery
    • The new scanners made by each company have been significantly improved and generally recognize the presence of a microchip made by a different company.
    • Talk to your vet about possible migration of the microchip.
    • Most manufacturers are now making Universal Scanners and which can detect the presence and often read tags made by other manufacturers.
    • For more information see - Dog Owner's Guide: Microchips

    These issues hinder the adoption of regulations requiring microchips by local governments, reduce the reliability of the technology, confuse the public, and increase the cost. Using the ISO microchip standard in the US will allow local, county, and state governments to adopt microchiping of strays with less threat of legal consequences and reduce the associated costs.

    What can you do?

    Help promote a US Standard for Companion Animal Microchiping. Most of the rest of the world has adopted the ISO standards for microchips. The US is years behind most other developed countries in this effort.

    Any solution must take into account the older installed base of microchips. The some of newer universal scanners can detect but not read all three varieties of microchips.

    Not a very pretty picture, but in time, these issues will be resolved.  If your area has scanners and checks for microchips, then use the microchip.  It is the most reliable method of identifying your pet.

    Even if your area does routinely check for microchips, please keep a collar or harness with an ID tag on your pet with your current phone number. The first person to find your pet will not have a microchip scanner but probably will have a cell phone.

Overview | News| Uses | Standards| Types of Tags | Issues| System Criteria | EPC | Future | Links

Created by Randall Jackson Other Sites by the Webmaster Top Updated - October 9, 2007